Campers Cera Loy, Evangelina Brudi and Zoe Tabor discuss design changes they would like to make in their wall for the summer FAMA camp at Cultural Centro Hispano de San Marcos. DAILY RECORD PHOTOS BY DENISE CATHEY

Camper Cooper Nelson spreads more mortar on top of the wall while group member Ava Maldonado watches at the Summer FAMA Camp at Cultural Centro Hispano de San Marcos.

Teacher Guadalupe Duran reviews what the campers learned about different building materials in class the previous day.

Teacher Maria Thompson scrapes fresh mortar off her spatula into a cup for Miranda Brambila and Jessica Amaya to work with. DAILY RECORD PHOTOS BY DENISE CATHEY

Campers designed and built a wall out of wooden blocks and mortar that they will test the construction of using a pendulum.

Campers Arie Taylor-Flint, Jayden Bermudez, and Ellie Ward give a group presentation on what parts they liked about their design and what they would change to the rest of the class.

Camp preparing students for STEM fields

Tara Pohlmeyer - Staff Reporter |

When asked if they would like to be engineers, third graders Analia Supelveda and Yajaira Aleli said, “Yes,” and giggled.

At the Future Aerospace- engineers and Mathematicians Academy, or FAMA pre-engineering program, San Marcos students are able to gain a better awareness of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, disciplines.

“There’s an interest, nationally, to increase the pipeline of STEM students and professionals,” said Dr. Lara Rodriguez Amaya, research faculty at the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research. The camp is sponsored by NASA.

“It is a summer program, but it’s very intensive,” she said. “We cover content areas in math and science that the students will see the upcoming year.”

Third through eighth grade students will each spend a week from now through Aug. 6 learning about STEM careers and practices.

“I think it’s really amazing because it’s almost like you can’t do this in regular school,” said Devin Aegerter, a pre-service teacher at San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District. “They’re learning so much and they’re using so many manipulatives to learn it that it’s a completely different experience. I don’t know if they’ve ever experienced something like this.”

Texas State University, the LBJ Institute, San Marcos CISD, Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos and NASA have all contributed to the program. Amaya said it took three years to get the grant to expand what was the Little Engineers summer camp.

“I have two daughters in the school district and I noticed that early on in school, in elementary, there was a need for after school activities that would allow them to explore STEM disciplines,” she said. “So I started working with the school district on after school programs for girls on STEM education. It just grew.”

The FAMA program is a year-long initiative and the camp is just one component. There are also family nights, home-based STEM activities and homework help available for residents.

“We know that the students bring a lot with them, and we want to take advantage of that and honor their background,” Amaya said of their bilingual tutoring services and STEM enrichment. “Helping kids with math at home, is very difficult. For many different reasons.”

The homework help sessions are available during the school year, Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.

“We feel that this is really representative of what this program is about,” Amaya said. “It’s the community coming together for the benefit of all of our students.”

The FAMA camp has filled up for this year, but the organization will be letting parents know when to apply for next year. The program hopes to be sustainable, but will need community involvement.

“There’s always the need for more help,” Amaya said.

She would like residents to volunteer to talk to students about what they do and how they use math at work. To volunteer with the FAMA program, residents can contact El Centro or the LBJ Institute.


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