Campers at work at Stem CampLearning more about science, technology, English and math (STEM) is something all children should have the opportunity to do, including those impacted by cancer. Through a partnership between Cancer Services and St. Joseph’s Academy, the cancer support organization offered a special STEM Camp in November, held in the school’s STEM lab. At the camp, children who have been touched by cancer either directly or through a family member, were given the opportunity to learn more about the technology and science.

Learning wasn’t the only goal of the camp, as the activities also allowed the kids to focus on turning their feelings about their diagnosis into a form of expression and stress relief through STEM projects and art.

“Kids diagnosed with cancer already miss school due to their illness, so it’s a challenge for them to join clubs or do these kinds of things,” said Sarah Plaeger, Children and Family Program Coordinator, Cancer Services. “This camp gives them the opportunity to see what STEM is and to start thinking about their futures and careers, instead of their diagnosis and treatment.”

During the STEM camp, the students worked on numerous projects using equipment and technology in the lab. St. Joseph’s Academy student volunteers and faculty taught campers how to use the software and technology in order to make custom designs for t-shirts, snow globes and other various 3D projects.

One of the projects included creating their own personal designs printed onto the front of a t-shirt with the Cancer Services logo on the back.

Stem Camp snow globe projectAnother project they completed during the two-day camp was making 3D-printed snow globes that featured custom designs, created by the campers and placed inside the transparent spheres.

By using the scanners and other equipment in the lab, campers saw that cancer treatment isn’t the only way to use technology. Plaeger described how special it was to see the children’s creativity and where their minds went when they used the programs to design their projects.

“It was about letting the kids learn the science and creativity behind 3D scans – it wasn’t about cancer anymore,” Plaeger said. “It was about learning and having fun.”

Following the camp, St. Joseph’s Academy donated several laptops to Cancer Services with special software loaded on them. Cancer Services plans to use the laptops for children who are too sick to attend STEM camp and allowing them to design pieces from home. St. Joseph’s will then kindly print their creations in the lab for them.

Cancer Services would like to thank its generous sponsor Unum for helping make this camp possible and is looking forward to another STEM camp next year. If you are interested in learning more about any of the children’s camps offered by Cancer Services, click here.