Area students attend summer STEM Camp at Tonto Creek

EAC File Photo: STEM Camp students visit the artificial turf football field at Camp Tontozona.

By Phil McBride/EAC

TONTO CREEK – Eastern Arizona College, with funding from the Rural Activation and Innovation Network and the National Science Foundation, partnered with the Eastern Arizona Science Initiative to host the sixth annual STEM Camp at Tonto Creek. Fifty-two students (grades 7-10) from the communities of Duncan, Safford, Thatcher, Pima, Fort Thomas, Mesa, Tucson, and Willcox departed from the Eastern Arizona College Discovery Park Campus on Tuesday, May, 25, for a four-day, three-night adventure.

During the week, each group rotated through six, daytime activities. In-Stream and Pond Ecology students took water samples from a pond, a stream, and a spring. They tested pH, temperature, turbidity, and conductivity. They also checked the temperature of the artificial turf football field and found it to be 150° F, which was 70° above the outside temperature. Students learned the fundamentals of archery with an emphasis on safety and self-discipline. They learned why the design of the bow and arrow work for precision through design and physics concepts.

EAC File Photo

In Wilderness Survival, students created a shelter while learning survival skills. Students learned about hydropower while creating their own water wheel in a competition to see who could generate the most electricity. They learned about teamwork as they performed various tasks in the “Amazing Race.” They learned trust, commitment, perseverance, and teamwork in a Low Ropes course.

Campers spent an hour each afternoon/evening participating in a game of soccer, Knockerball, or crab soccer. Each evening the participants were divided into three groups where they rotated through three STEM activities, Astronomy, Roller Coaster Physics, and K’Nex Towers.

EAC File Photo: STEM Camp students visit the largest natural travertine bridge in the world, the Tonto Natural Bridge.

Wednesday afternoon was spent at what is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world, the Tonto Natural Bridge, which stands 183 feet high over a 400-foot-long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest point. The students enjoyed an afternoon hike down to the bottom of the natural bridge and spent time cooling off in the water pools. Campers saw javelina roaming through the park and spotted Coatimundi climbing rocks underneath the natural bridge.

On the last evening, all campers joined together for an evening of karaoke, music, and cheers as campers were recognized for their achievements. Bella Martins was the female Knockerball champion and Tim Black was the male champion. Tim Black won the Archery competition with a score of 26 with three arrows. Rhylie Klajda and Will Chidester tied for second place.

Camp staff included Lewis and Becky Booth, from Duncan, Ethan McBride, from Safford, Phil and Paula McBride, from Thatcher, and Paul and Tawnie Anger, from Pima. These individuals taught most of the activities throughout the week. 

“It was great to see the participants make new friends, overcome challenges, and work together in teams while learning about science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Phil McBride. “We had an amazing group of young men and ladies. They were very respectful, obedient, hardworking, and just fun to be around.”

EAC File Photo

For further information about summer camps or STEM activities in your area, or to learn how you can receive funding for a STEM project from the Graham Greenlee Rural Activation Innovation Network, contact Phil McBride, EAC Dean of Instruction at (928) 428-8404 or Paul Anger, Director of Discovery Park Campus, at (928) 428-6260.

To view a file photo album regarding the camp click here.

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