From “What do you want to be when you grow up?” — It’s the big question we all face when we’re young, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Common answers are firefighter or police officer and middle and high school students from the Wausau Boys and Girls Club got the chance to live out that dream on Wednesday.

Kids got to try on a couple different hats for size at the Northcentral Technical College Safety Center of Excellence in Merrill as they went through the training exercises of police, fire, and EMS professionals.

“It’s really fun and it teaches us to be on our feet and be very active,” Tyler Jones, 14 said.

“They’re kind of at that point of ‘what should I do for my career when I get a little bit older?’ And, ‘where should I go to college?’ And things like that are starting to play into their minds, so this gives them an opportunity to see maybe this might be the avenue that they might want to venture into,” said the college’s Public Safety Executive Director Bert Nitzke.

Fourteen-year-old Asia Stalsberg said she’s now thinking of going into the behind the scenes work of public safety.

The hands-on experiences is, of course a great opportunity for all the kids involved, but it’s especially so for the young women.

“This has been a male-dominated field for a long time and seeing more girls come here today and seeing them apply at the fire departments is great because we do need that diversity and it’s just great seeing them out here having fun,” said SAFER Firefighter and EMT Emily Dobeck. “Sometimes it can be very intimidating seeing is how most of the tasks that we perform require strength, but sometimes it comes in handy when you’re smaller.”

Experiences like the one the Boys and Girls Club and NTC provided for the kids may inspire more women to join the field.

If you would like to try some of the college’s hands-on training classes or bring your group to some, you can visit their website here:

From “Middle Schoolers Compete in STEM Academy Final Competition” — Summer vacation is well underway for most students, but for more than one hundred middle school students class is far from dismissed.

Middle schoolers from seven different schools throughout the state are spending their first weeks of summer learning about science, technology, engineering and math.

Through video conferencing, all seven schools worked together on projects like building water rockets and marshmallow catapults. Friday, they all met face to face for the first time to show off and test their projects in a friendly competition.

“Our passion for this program is for them to understand that science, technology, engineering and math they are exciting fields and that it’s not scary and they can do it,” Program Director Jamie Lane explained.

Their methods seem to have worked. Students tell us the program made STEM subjects fun and more interesting to learn.

“I’ve never really been a big fan of math,” Rosholt sixth grader Cora Kertzman confessed. “But now I’m understanding it more and I like it a lot more.”

Even teachers say they’ve learned from this experience and hope to bring the fun back into the classroom this fall.

This was the first year for the STEM Project Academy. Organizers tell NewsChannel 7 the program was so popular they already have a waiting list for next year.

The STEM project was made possible through a partnership with the Erving Network and Northcentral Technical College.

From “MSTC Vex Robotics Camp exposes students to mechanical skills” — About 25 middle schoolers and their parents descended on Mid-State Technical College to watch robots compete against each other Thursday.

And the neat part? The children built the robots themselves.

Over the past four days, coaches at MSTC’s Vex Robotics Camp taught students the basic process of building and developing their own robots. Thursday’s competition was a culmination of the students’ week-long effort and gave the youths an opportunity to showcase what they learned.

Richard Breen, an adjunct professor at MSTC, is one of the camp’s coordinators and coaches. He said he hopes the children take what they learned and apply it to life outside the camp.

“We hope that we inspire them to go on and do more — and a little bit with programming,” Breen said.

However, Breen noted that programing and mechanical techniques are not the only lessons they learn. The students also practice soft skills such as teamwork, problem solving and time management in their race to build the ultimate robot.

“It’s got all those great elements that culminate in the competition to see who designed the best unit that can perform the task to the best ability,” said Gary Kilgas, associate dean of MSTC’s technical industrial division.

The robotics camp introduces students to different facets of math and science they might not encounter in the classroom.

“What I see is that they’re able to use cellphones and computer systems very well, but their mechanical skills are not necessarily there,” Breen said.

Exposing today’s youths to these mechanical and engineering skills is especially important, said Kilgas, because many employers looking for workers are unable to find qualified people because of the skills gap.

“We need those types of talents here. We have got businesses looking for CNC (computer numerical control) operators or people who understand automation,” Kilgas said. “And those are all the types of things you’re learning here (at camp).”

This is this summer’s second week of the Vex Robotics Camp. And according to Kilgas, it’s been a success so far.

“It’s not only the right thing to do with these young people — keeping them interested in technology, engineering and math — but it’s a wonderful way for them to learn new skills and work as team,” Kilgas said.

From “Math, science lessons propel camp” — Gina Filkins figured it would be fun to build a race car, so she signed up for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Race Camp, which took place this week at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Filkins, of River Falls, was among 19 high school participants at the camp, but one of only four girls.

“I think more girls should do camps like this,” Filkins, 14, said. “I’ve always been into science and math, so this has been really fun.”

Throughout this week, race camp participants learned about career opportunities in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a hands on environment, camp director John Wagner said.

Campers focused on powering race cars using three different petroleum-independent technologies: wind, solar and hydrogen. Participants were divided into teams to modify the cars before a race Thursday afternoon.

Along with making the vehicles run with an alternative fuel source, participants learned to adjust the cars’ alignment, gears and tires to optimize their performance, Wagner said.

Elliot Voelker, 15, who will be a sophomore at Regis High School next school year, said he enjoyed racing cars while getting to know other camp participants.

The camp is part of a nationwide effort to expose students to opportunities in STEM-related professions. The event, funded by grants, was started by CVTC staff. Grants provide scholarships to help qualifying students afford the camp.

Tucker Manderscheid, 14, who will be a freshman at Chippewa Falls High School, enjoys modifying cars. His team powered their vehicles with solar power, which he thought was the easiest of the three alternative power sources to use.

Chicagoria Yang, 15, who will be a sophomore at North High School, was part of a team using wind to power its car. Team members adjusted the car’s gears and experimented with different wheels in an effort to enable it to drive more efficiently.

Wagner said some camp participants showed up early to spend extra time working on their cars.

“The kids are so exceptional,” Wagner said.

From “Young people learn how to create arcade games” — Rhinelander – Video games are sounds most parents don’t want to hear during the summer time.

What they might not know is these kids are learning to create arcade games.

“It’s a lot more complicated that people give it credit for. In fact building videos games is probably one of the most complicated areas of computer science,” said Computer Programming Instructor, Ethan Blue.

“So starting to develop these skills in a kid friendly way with the software we’re using really helps them to develop critical thinking, reasoning, using resources, things like that.” Young people in this class are between the ages 10 and 13 years old.

At Nicolet College they learn how to control characters, objects and create backgrounds for four days.

Instructor Ethan Blue said he didn’t want the first day of class to be boring.

“Kids tend to get sort of bored when you just talk about the idea behind logic and things like that. They want to play,” Blue said.

“So we start them making games right away. They start putting graphics in. It starts off simple and as things progress through the four-day camp, things get more complicated as they go.”

Making the video games sounds pretty cool, but there’s a lot of mathematics involved.

“You have to pretty much know like the X and Y axis’s and negative and positive numbers,” said 12 year old, Sebastian Wittig.

“If you screw it up, the game won’t work right. You’ll go through walls.”

After the program is over, an aspiring game designer says he might have his family try out his new game.

“I think my personalized game is pretty good. When the class is over I’ll try to make my brothers play it.” 10 year old, Keagan Brown said.

One message Blue wants parents to know about this program is kids will be kids.

“Just encourage your kids to be kids and to play and that’s really how you learn. That’s how I developed a love for learning and how I became an instructor at a college,” Blue said.

“So don’t just throw away video games just because they’re games. You can get a lot out of them too.”

From “Tech Knowledge College puts kids in career fast lane” — Nearly 200 area middle school students got a glimpse into potential careers at Moraine Park Technical College’s Tech Knowledge College (TKC) held at the Fond du Lac campus.

During the three-day camp, Aug. 6-8, students enjoyed hands-on learning as they participated in course offerings from among almost 20 different sessions. There was something for everyone, and participants left TKC with new skills in a variety of areas, including movie making, yo-yo manufacturing, gourmet baking and hair techniques.

“The camp is great,” said Mohini Kumar of Fond du Lac.“I have learned a lot of new things and I love how the teachers let us use our imaginations and make whatever we want.”

Kumar’s projects had no shortage of imagination. During the Quick Breads course, a new session at TKC this year, she made scones filled with pineapple, cashews and cranberries. She also created a short film about a dance team with her group in the Movie Making session at MPTC.

Moraine Park has been hosting TKC for more than 20 years. Although sessions have changed to complement new and evolving technology, the purpose of the event has remained the same — to give students a chance to get a hands-on, interactive look at the skills and careers needed today and in the future.


From “Nicolet’s Summer College Camp gives kids a taste of college” — Rhinelander – Going to college in summer may sound boring, but Nicolet’s Summer College Camp proves class can be a lot of fun.

The College Camp ran Monday through today. The camp was for 6th and 8th graders around the Northwoods and cost $75.

“The overall goal is really to have students not only start to think about what they might want to be when they grow up, so to speak, but also to get a feel of what a college campus feels like and actually walk on it, spend some time there,” says Teri Phalin, College Camp Organizer. Each of the 60 students picked two, 90-minute classes to rotate through during the afternoon. The classes specialized in welding, engineering, cartooning, sports medicine, and cooking – just to name a few.

“I’ve always been interested in theater. I’ve always wanted to be an actress when I grow up. And this just helps me with improv. I always thought improv was going to be kind of hard so this has kind of reassured me that it’s not as hard as I thought it would have been,” said Livi Roberts, Theater Class – 8th Grader.

Many students said they wished the camp ran longer because it was so much fun. Some already have asked to sign-up for next year.

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