From drones to DIY labs, summer camps keep students learning

by STEMconnector

Students across the U.S. are spending their summer breaks experimenting with cutting-edge technologies and exploring new industries, all while sharpening their skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

BP proudly supported a number of STEM programs and summer camps in Houston, Chicago and South Carolina, where students got an up-close look at everything from high-flying drones to 3-D printing — and learned how these innovations are being used to solve real-world energy challenges.

Drone camp propels student learning

BP co-sponsored a free weeklong camp at Rice University where middle school students explored the engineering and science of drone technology and how it can help solve real-world challenges.

In addition to getting hands-on training in drone operation and safety, the students toured BP’s campus to learn how engineers are using visualization technology in the energy sector, visited the Microsoft Technology Center to explore computing advances in the aerial robotics industry, and learned about using drone technology for animal conservation and animal welfare at the Houston Zoo.

Exploring STEM with hands-on tools

BP donated money to help build a new interactive STEM lab, called a Maker Space Lab, for Philip Simmons Elementary School, located near the BP Cooper River Chemicals plant in Charleston, South Carolina.

The space utilizes a variety of specialized equipment to engage students in STEM learning, including power tools, a LEGO wall, electronics station, sewing space, cardboard station, 3-D printer and a center where students can create electronic video game boards.

Solving offshore energy challenges

BP founded the OTC Energy Challenge, a student-led competition where teams from high schools across Houston developed solutions for industry challenges ranging from engineering offshore wind turbines to designing remote monitoring systems. They presented their findings at an e-poster session within the formal Offshore Technology Conference program.

The team of sophomores from Kashmere High School came up with an innovative solution for powering a remote offshore oil and gas facility using wind and wave energy. Each team was supported by an academic coach and worked with industry mentors, including a number of BP engineers and geoscientists.

Engineering in manufacturing

Middle school students participating in the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Math’s CREATEng Camp visited the BP Cooper River Chemicals plant for a lesson in engineering in manufacturing.

BP employees and college interns discussed the different types of products and processes that are typical to the oil and gas industry. Students then participated in two science experiments: a pump and tank demonstration used in the actual hiring of engineers at the plant, and a lab project where students made “gloop” with borax, glue, food coloring, glitter and water.

A closer look at the energy industry

BP employees met with incoming sixth-grade students at a STEM summer camp at West Briar Middle School in Houston, where they talked about their day-to-day work and how it relates to BP’s overall operations.

Their interactive presentations covered topics including process safety, the design and installation of floating oil production platforms, corrosion and fitness for service.

Summer camps inspire STEM careers

BP is sponsoring the National Society of Black Engineers SEEK camps in both Houston and Chicago. The three-week engineering programs are designed to improve elementary school students’ aptitude in math and science and inspire them to pursue STEM careers.

Each week the students take on a new project, culminating with a presentation, design competition and physical competitions judged by BP volunteers and other industry representatives.