Arvin Students Join Winter STEAM Camp at Kern County Museum 

Friday December 22, 2023

The Arvin Union School District is making the most of its three-week winter holiday break to provide an enriching STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) camp for kids. The five-day STEAM camp was created by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and hosted this week by the Kern County Museum. Arvin USD students from Kindergarten through eighth grade signed up. The younger students (K-3) are bused in from Arvin each morning, and the older kids (4th-8th) are brought in the afternoon.  

This is the second year that Arvin has participated in a winter camp. Jamie Viveros, expanded learning coordinator with KCSOS, says last year they started with 120 students and this year it has exploded to 400. She says the kids are so excited to come to the winter camp.  

As soon as they hear that there’s camp, they’re rushing to sign up,” she said.  

Students learn aerodynamics with paper airplanes.

Viveros puts together the various lesson plans for both the winter and summer camps. The students are put into groups, and each has two college-age mentors who rotate them through five different activities each day. The lessons are tailored to each grade level. Viveros says the key is changing up the lesson plans so there’s variety.  

“We definitely want to not do the same thing all the time, because you’re going to get bored,” she said. “We’re always trying to get new stuff going.”

Jamie Viveros talks with a student about his lego pizza slice.

Third-grade student Max participated in the camp. He’s had several lessons, including how to form a circuit that powers a small fan. He says he likes science and arts and crafts.

“I learned about elephant toothpaste and soap, that it makes it explode,” he said, referring to a chemical reaction he saw during one of his lessons.  

Every activity or lesson incorporates STEAM in some way, and the lessons build on each other so students can expand on what they learned the day before. Viveros says she hopes the camp will help broaden students’ knowledge.

“[We] try and incorporate some of those science standards that they’re not getting in their classroom at the camp,” she said. 

Students learn engineering and electricity with LEGOs and Snap Circuits.

Kyle Atkin, the director of STEAM and expanded learning with KCSOS, says he wants to make sure the kids can apply the lessons to the real world.

“We’re really trying to make it as cohesive as we can, and seeing STEAM in the world around them,” he said.  

This is all part of Arvin’s expanded learning program. The camp, which is free for students, is made possible through the 21st Century Grant, which provides funding for after-school programs and extended learning that takes place outside of school hours. 

One Kindergarten lesson had mentors reading the story “Too Much Glue” to the group. Afterward, the students moved on to an art piece using a lot of glue and glitter.  

Kindergarteners use “too much glue” in their art projects.

Meanwhile, the older students worked on some real-world problem solving, like how to pick up your keys or phone after they fall down a storm drain.  

Te’arra Haney has been a mentor in the summer and winter camps for the past three years. She says she wants to make sure the kids are having fun, but also getting an experience that they won’t likely get in class.

“You’re watching them kind of come up with things on their own,” she said. “It’s interesting to see the creative minds of like children to see how different they are.”  

Haney says her favorite part is seeing the students get excited about science.  

“Seeing them understand and light up about what they’re learning, because I think that’s the hardest part is trying to get kids excited about science at such a young age,” she said.  

Atkin agreed, saying “they arrive with smiles on their faces, and they leave with smiles on their faces, and that’s always a good thing.” 

Mentor Te’arra Haney hands out rewards to students.

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By Katie Avery

By Katie Avery

Katie Avery joined the Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2023 as a Communications Specialist. As a former journalist and marketing professional, her passions include media and storytelling. Before joining KCSOS, Avery worked for various local TV stations as well as the health care industry.