{STEM}ming Out From the Classroom

Written by Tami Barlow

On May 31, 2016

On May 17th and 18th, hand-selected fifth graders from all 4 of our schools were taken on a two-day field experience aptly known as: Camp Blackbaud. Students woke up regular 5th graders and went to sleep tech-savvy app designers. This hands-on learning experience was so packed of valuable, relatable, and applicable Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills, that not only did the students leave with designs for their own tablet apps, but a tangible goal of one day working in the tech field.

To say that the staff at Blackbaud went out of their way to make this experience amazing would be an understatement. Our students were put into teams with a variety of different Blackbaud employees, all serving different aspects of the company. Along with our students’ ideas, these teams worked together over the course of the experience to collaborate, create, and code.

MIT research predicts that within the next 20 years, 45% of American jobs will be computer based. Implementing programs such as Camp Blackbaud into our neighborhood schools not only ensures that our students will be prepared for that statistic when they enter the workforce, but that they will be excited and motivated as they complete their education, knowing what a day-in-the-life of a tech employee is.

Steve, an Information Architect at Blackbaud and team leader for the camp said, “This is great to expose kids to technology early on to help bridge the gap between now and their future. I hope that they not only understand the games they play on Smart Phones and tablets, but that this incentivizes how they are made. This experience makes the idea of a career building games attainable”. Alisha, a Software Quality Analyst said of the camp, “It’s amazing to give kids an opportunity to see past their school classrooms and neighborhoods. There is a whole world of opportunity out there and this is a gateway for them to see it. It’s so great for us as employees to experience that with them!”

The students were able to enjoy the use of Blackbaud’s facilities, just as a regular employee would, and took full advantage of the beanbag work stations, the courtyard, and the scenic views of beautiful Daniel Island. The employees, in turn, took full advantage of being able to release their inner child. The curriculum for the two days was impressive and rigorous, but what cannot be taught or written is the passion each person at Blackbaud displayed for enthusiastically working with our students. While computers and graphics are quite impressive, the compassion demonstrated was truly magical.

Many thanks to Blackbaud for organizing and hosting our neighborhood students, again. Also, we want to extend our thanks to The Daniel Island Community Fund for generously sponsoring the busses for all of our schools to attend. We are so excited for another Camp Blackbaud next spring!