Early childhood education majors Shelley Hynson ’16 and Emily Richardson ’16 taught an education camp as part of Hood College’s Summer Research Institute this summer.

Marisel N. Torres-Crespo, Ph.D., assistant professor of education, developed and directed the STEAM camp—science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics—at Hood’s Onica Prall Child Development Laboratory School.

The camp included 12 four-year-old children, six boys and six girls. Hynson taught the boys, and Richardson taught the girls.

To prepare, Hynson and Richardson spent a couple of weeks before the camp writing each day’s lessons. During the camp, they worked after hours each day modifying and preparing the lessons for the next day.

“The most valuable aspect of this summer research was all the planning I had to do as the lead role in the classroom,” said Hynson. “I had never realized how much needed to be planned ahead of time.”

One of Torres-Crespo’s focuses was to study how boys and girls differ in learning in the classroom. Hynson and Richardson observed a number of differences.

“Emily and I found that girls would always take much longer and wanted their projects to look pretty, whereas the boys rushed through it and just wanted to get it done,” said Hynson. “Boys also had a harder time working together in groups. This research is something I can keep in mind in the future when planning lessons for my own classes.”

The camp is fun for the students, and it teaches them problem-solving skills through the use of play, according to Torres-Crespo.

“If you ask them, they are playing all the time,” she said. “For two weeks, they are immersed in hands-on activities. They learn not only the skills, but how to work in groups, to be creative, how to solve the problem and respect others’ ideas.”

The camp taught Hynson and Richardson about ways to teach their classes in the future.

“I definitely got a greater understanding of STEAM and how it should be implemented into a classroom,” said Richardson. “It was interesting to see the students work through these concepts and see how they discovered things on their own. The incorporation of STEM and STEAM is now in public schools, so I have that experience going into my internship this year.”

Torres-Crespo hopes to implement her camp in a broader setting outside of Hood in the future.

The Summer Research Institute gives students the opportunity to work with faculty advisers on a research project. The projects involve laboratory or field work for eight weeks during the summer. The SRI provides students with a $2,500 stipend and free housing.

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