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Martinsville City Public Schools' virtual camps leave students wanting more

MARTINSVILLE, VA – Martinsville City Public Schools’ summer virtual STEM and Robotics camps received overwhelmingly positive reviews from students and parents and helped refine virtual learning techniques for the upcoming academic year, the school district said.

Students used an online robotics platform and interactive Zoom meetings during the camp.

Hundreds of city schools students participated in these camps.

Students were guided through the camps by instructors from Albert Harris Elementary School, Patrick Henry Elementary School, and Martinsville Middle School who worked to bring the virtual experience to life.

The school district originally planned to only hold the two June camps, but after overwhelming feedback from parents and students, camp was extended an additional week in July.

Very hands on even though it was virtual. If this is how virtual learning for the upcoming school year will be, I feel a lot more comfortable about it, an unidentified parent stated.

Camp organizers Elizabeth Lynch, a Patrick Henry Elementary School STEM Teacher, and Elizabeth Fulcher, the district's STEM and Career Coordinator, brainstormed with teachers and leadership.

They decided to host camps based on instructor’s interests that involve STEM skills and future career explorations.

Students who completed second through eighth grades were offered courses in cooking, video production, digital music production, coding, or a makers camp.

We would be happy to be able to participate in more of these and hope that the online curriculum for students this fall will allow more time for hands on STEM classes through the week instead of having to wait for a specific day of the week, said another unidentified parent.

Students who completed kindergarten and first grade were offered to participate in virtual meetings to gain experience about how they learn and interact in an online environment.

Each day had a different theme including space, bubbles, water, and dinosaurs, with four to five different activities each day.

Martinsville Schools say students continued to request longer camp days and extensions.

We are excited about the overwhelmingly positive response from our families and staff,” said Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Angilee Downing. “This was an opportunity to pilot integrating hands-on and virtual learning, and it was a great success. We look forward to expanding the work done this summer into providing engaging, hands-on virtual experiences for our students in the fall.

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