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Engineering workshops help Westchase campers explore world

BY Jeff Berlinicke
Special Correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: July 31, 2014 at 10:47 AM

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— Kids love to eat. But at a camp in Westchase, they have the opportunity to learn what actually goes into the food they put in their bellies — and a whole lot more.

Adventures in Engineering is hosting weekly classes that teach kids about more than how to work their cellphones. The program, which runs out of the Westtown Church on Race Track Road in Westchase, offers a four-week program that teaches various forms of engineering to kids from all area schools.

The first session dealt with toys and gaming. Kids learned how toys are made and how they work. They learned how to program a computer game and even created a new toy.

Next came All About Food, where kids learned there’s a lot more that goes into making food than simply opening a refrigerator or a microwave.

Sports Technology came next, where kids learned that sports goes beyond baseball cards and television. They learned how to run a scoreboard, how a football helmet is designed and other things kids don’t think about when the Bucs have a third-and-long.

The last session will be Launch and Learn. Kids will test model rockets, airplanes and other things to see how high they can fly and how far they can fall.

Leslie Wall is one of the two coordinators of the program. She is a Cornell graduate and teaches the program as part of the Hillsborough County STEM program (science, technology, engineering, math) that is prominently used in county public schools.

“We wanted to make engineering fun,” Wall said. “We can’t do everything, but once the kids get into it, they are so excited. With the food program, it’s nice to see how it works in the real world.”

She said she is happy that a lot of girls signed up for the program.

“With the engineering program, the further along kids go in the field of engineering, the more it goes to the boys instead of girls,” Wall said. “It is great to see the girls getting involved.”

The food class isn’t all about cooking, but it is about how food is made and prepared.

Sixth-grader Cole came up with the most creative project in the club. He designed a dish that had a place for a cookie in the middle separated by a “moat” that held milk on the outside.

Third-grader Kyle learned how peanut butter gets put into a jar.

First-grader Erin said she was learning how to make a paper cup that could pour water without spilling.

The camp is only a week long, which might be the campers’ only complaint.

“You learn that making food is harder than it looks,” Kyle said. “I wish it lasted longer.”

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