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Bosch renews grant for 2019 SMC STEM camp

Bosch Community Fund’s board has awarded a $5,850 grant enabling Southwestern Michigan College to continue offering a STEM summer camp in early August 2019. Last summer’s camp consisted of four workshops — one each for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — for 230 students from across Michiana entering grades 4-6.

STEM camp’s hands-on activities stress problem-solving, collaborative teamwork, critical thinking, communication and creativity.

In the summer of 2018, participants rotated from the Dowagiac campus’s William P.D. O’Leary Building chemistry lab, where they concocted colorful slime from baking soda, glue, contact solution, glitter and food coloring, to the Barbara Wood Building computer lab, where they also learned about 3D printing and drones.

“This grant will allow us to continue to offer our STEM summer camp that we have hosted here on campus the last two summers at no charge to participants,” said SMC STEM advisor Andrew Dohm, who wrote the grant Bosch funded. “The plan will be to build on what we have already established and continue to offer area students access to this great opportunity.

“The camp has a proven track record of attracting students from a large geographic area, getting them onto campus and into our labs and classrooms and getting them excited about STEM,” said Dohm, an SMC physics and mathematics instructor. Dohm holds a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Technological University and worked as a Chrysler Corp. production supervisor before going into teaching.

Dohm assigned budding engineers to design a scaled-down version of Curiosity, a $2.5-billion, car-sized rover launched Nov. 26, 2011, to explore Gale Crater as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission. NASA choreographed a perfectly-timed sequence to take advantage of a seven-minute window from the top of the thin atmosphere to the surface of the Red Planet in a descent braking from 13,000 mph.

 “Real engineers are faced with problems. They identify constraints and come up with a solution,” Dohm said. “They had to slow it down so it would land gently and not damage sophisticated electronics.”

His “astronauts” were marshmallows in plastic-cup capsules. Teams were tasked with building a lander to keep them cushioned inside when dropped from a meter above the table using a kit of tape, straws, mini-marshmallows, a cardboard square and folded index cards.

At the 2017 STEM camp, Dohm applied engineering principles to roller coaster design.