Field Trip to UNC Charlotte Showcases Integration and Application of STEM in Real-World Settings

McPie STEM Campers
Thursday, July 6, 2023

written by Janice Mukhia 

UNC Charlotte offers diverse opportunities and programs to keep students educationally stimulated throughout the summer. Most recently, it partnered with the McClintock Partners in Education (McPIE), an outreach initiative of Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, to host a field trip for 55 sixth grade students and chaperones as part of its two-week STEM  (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) camp . The camp was targeted to increase students’ interest in STEM-related fields through hands-on STEM discovery. During the field trip, campers toured the UNC Charlotte School of Nursing simulation lab, the creative MakerSpace lab at the College of Computing and Informatics, and the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. 

At the School of Nursing in the College of Health and Human Services, Ashton Atmore, simulation technician, and Melinda Pierce, coordinator for simulation and interdisciplinary practice, gave students an overview of a simulated hospital and primary care setting. Using nursing manikins, students learned CPR techniques, how to operate a stethoscope, and scanned their hands under a LED hand scanner that detects bacteria and viruses. The activities were designed to replicate real-life clinical situations which are evidence-based, provide an overview of what nursing entails as well as educational and clinical skills needed in all aspects of professional nursing practice. 

The Makerspace lab at the College of Computing and Informatics was one of the favorites for all campers. Dr. David Wilson, associate professor, in conjunction with students, led the Makerspace demonstrations. Campers plunged into creative, hands-on activities designed to inspire innovation, creative learning, as well as hone conceptual and designing skills. The ‘banana music’ activity, for example, was used to demonstrate how to create and wire circuit boards. Students learned about basic programming, circuit boards and using 3D printing and laser cutting to design a real product. Shannon Gibson, academic facilitator at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, who coordinated the field trip, said that the camp served as a hook to get students interested not only in STEM-related fields, but showcase integration and application of STEM-based concepts in real-world settings. 

Students also toured the UNC Charlotte Botanical gardens where April Faucette, visitor services coordinator at UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, gave an up-close look at exotic plants like orchids, desert and carnivorous plants, spice and fruit plants, that grow year-round at the UNC Charlotte greenhouse. “We love to share the world of plants with people,” said Faucette. From a kaleidoscope of tropical ferns, to succulents, vines, flowers and shrubs, campers learned about the diverse flora that are native and non-native species of the piedmont region. 

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