Campers DIG into STEM

  • DIG campers make music with bananas and electricity.

A four-week summer camp helped nearly 100 youth to dig deep into science, technology, engineering and math.

The Dreams Imagination and Gift (DIG) Development Program sponsored its third annual STEM camp during June for students in first through eighth grades on the campus of Winfield Heights Baptist Church in Williston. While they planned to have around 80 students, they had an average of 97 the first two weeks.

“We are hoping they're enriched and not part of the traditional summer slide,” said Kim Richburg, the camp’s director. The Denmark native, who now lives in Columbia, said she believes they accomplished that goal with some campers possibly even moving up a level.

Using a variety of themes, such as Weather/Solar System, Einstein and Beethoven, and Around the World, the camp incorporated the STEM principles of science, technology, engineering and math through speakers, field trips, recreational activities and hands-on activities.

For example, campers made slime, models of coastal habitats, maps of the continents out of dough, and music from bananas and electricity. They also used a 3-D printer to print volcanoes out of plastic, which they erupted.

First-year DIG camper Gabriel Hosey, a rising seventh grader at Williston-Elko Middle School, said they made slime two weeks in a row because science involves multiple tests. “You have to make predictions and do it over,” said Hosey, who also enjoyed how high school math teacher Bernard Walters explained Algebra 1 so he could understand it better.

Ramarya Eubanks, who is another first-year camper, said she also enjoyed the math and science elements of the camp, including topics on erosion and weather. “I’m best at them,” said the rising fourth grader at Barnwell Elementary School.

A highlight of the summer for many DIG campers was a trip on June 20 to the Isle of Palms Barrier Islands for an ecotour to show the campers the importance of the ecosystem.

Kassidy Smith, a rising first grader at Kelly Edwards Elementary School, said she enjoyed the boat ride where she saw lots of colorful crabs and fish. She also saw two dolphins.

“Just to see those faces was the highlight of my summer,” said Richberg of the excitement the children exhibited. This was the first time some children had been on a boat or even visited a beach.

In addition to STEM-related activities, the importance of reading was highlighted to show that “reading will take you far,” said Richberg. Campers also learned about financial literacy, the arts, and character education to “show them it’s not just about being a nice person. You have to have some integrity, good judgment and know how to respond to positive and negative feedback,” she said.

While the instructors taught a lot of content during the camp, Richberg said she enjoyed seeing the “accidental learning” that happened. Youth volunteers who aged out of the camp, also helped, which grew their leadership skills.

The camp concluded on Friday, June 30 with a special program that showed off the various projects the campers worked on all month. Some campers also expressed what DIG has meant to them.

Though the camp is over, DIG’s mission of enriching and engaging the community’s youth continues, including through the afterschool program that starts back in August. They have also sponsored a STEM Festival in downtown Williston in the spring that has drawn more than 2,000 people the past two years.

“Big dreams are happening in small places and these dreams will continue to become a reality if we continue to ‘DIG Deep’ as a local community and county. DIG is a county organization with plans to spread even further throughout South Carolina,” said Steven Brown, a Williston native who founded DIG.

However, to continue to impact Barnwell County and beyond, DIG needs the support of local governments, organizations, schools, businesses and industries. This can be done by volunteering, donations, sponsorships, attending events and finding opportunities to partner with DIG, said Brown.

“We can plant a garden as one, but as a community we can grow a field. So let’s continue to DIG fertile ground and watch our community grow,” he said.

For more information about DIG, visit www.digdp.org or their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/digdp.