Innovation with STREAM Camp

As educators we have a multitude of opportunities to make a difference with students. I’m grateful that in my role as a District Instructional Technologist I have the potential to positively affect the lives and educations of thousands of Killeen ISD students. One of my favorite programs is our KISD summer STREAM camp that takes place in our libraries. STREAM camp evolved from a traditional summer library program in our school district. For various reasons, interest and participation in the program was waning, and we needed to make a change! One brilliant librarian, Dina D’amore at Reeces Creek Elementary, suggested that we host a maker or STEM camp. We ran with the idea and hosted camps for two successful years. In 2020, we did not host the camp due to the pandemic. 

At Lamar University, this semester I seized the chance to deeply explore and develop ideas about how to innovate what is already an impactful program. My exploration is shared here in the form of an Innovation Proposal, a research Literature Review, an Innovation Outline, a video to share with stakeholders, and an Annotated Bibliography of related resources.

The pandemic has brought us opportunities to innovate in many areas of education, and STREAM Camp is no different. Although things are odd and different than they were previously, we need to continue marching forward. I anticipate that the innovations that are brought forth in the midst of this pandemic will have great implications on the state of education. Teachers and educational leaders are being exposed to the possibilities of digital learning that may not have been evident to them before.

My primary proposed innovation for STREAM Camp 2021 is to include a virtual component. We have remote learners that would love to participate in STREAM camp. It is essential that we provide equal opportunities for our face-to-face and remote learners to engage in school activities.

Another innovation we have planned is to host STREAM camp at a middle school, and customize those activities to a higher level. We are looking at ways to incorporate design challenges as well.

A third innovation that I am eager to include is incorporating 3-D printing options in our activities. 3-D printers are becoming a standard in our district libraries as we strive to include makerspace items on each campus. Therefore, 3-D printers are more readily available for our students. STREAM camp is a wonderful time to expose students to the possibilities of 3-D creation.

In order to establish need for large-scale projects such as a STREAM camp, we have to examine the research behind related topics. This includes ideas about inquiry-based learning, library learning commons, makerspaces, design thinking, as well as coding and computational thinking.

The common theme that I find in the majority of my research was that in order for students to be successful and to have authentic learning, they need to be provided with time and opportunities to explore topics that interest them. When students have a choice, ownership, voice, and agency they can be captivated by topics that are of interest to them. When given options to solve real-world problems, students will engage in the 4 Cs of 21st Century learning: creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. These skills are what will best prepare them for future jobs.

Among the resources, titles of frameworks and steps to success differ, but the themes, supported by research remain the same. Students excel in environments that allow them to explore their interests, and answer their own questions. STREAM camp absolutely provides students with the tools to freely explore a wide range of interests!

An event of this magnitude takes much pre-planning and collaboration. Above all, all interested parties need to remain flexible as rules and resources change and collaboration of professionals may occasionally lead us in a different direction. Detailed below in the implementation outline is a timeline, budget and areas of responsibility for STREAM Camp 2021.

  • October – Design Innovation Proposal
  • November – Secure Funding for staff and supplies
  • December – Preliminary Interest Meeting for staff
  • January – Organize Staff
  • February – Organize Locations
  • March – Advertisement & Planning
  • April – Order supplies & Sign – up
  • May – Sign – up & Survey
  • June – Camps take place
  • July – After Action Report

Additional Considerations and Notes

  • Locations – To be determined
  • Students – Grades rising 1-8, both Face to Face & Remote
  • Ratio of students – propose 25 of each, remote and Face to Face
  • Budget Approved – Title I funds

Digital Tools to Incorporate

  • Scratch
  • Tinkercad
  • Sketchup
  • Minecraft

Existing Supplies to Incorporate

  • Dash Robots
  • Sphero Robots
  • Little Bits
  • Ozobots
  • Lego WeDo Kits
  • Makey Makey Kits
  • Hummingbird Duo Kits
  • Dremel 3D printers
  • Extraordinaires Kits

This brief Innovation with STREAM Camp, Version 2021 video tells the story of KISD STREAM Camp with videos and pictures.

Throughout the first phase of this project I have had a chance to review an abundance of materials, including journal articles, government agency reports, websites and books. Several of these resources are included in this annotated bibliography. The resources and ideas relevant to the concepts of teaching with STEM topics are plentiful, so I have also included a list of additional references. There are so many books, websites and articles to dive into, and so little time! I am looking forward to learning and investigating more throughout my Digital Learning and Leading journey.

This project is continually evolving as I traverse my Digital Learning and Leading journey and as guidelines and resources in public education fluctuate.

Blog Post in Adobe Spark Page

Innovation with STREAM Camp: Annotated Bibliography

Barefoot Computing. (2020). Computational Thinking [Computational thinking involves six different concepts and five approaches to working.]. Retrieved October 24, 2020, from

Barefoot Computing is a website for teachers in the United Kingdom that provides lessons, online guides and workshops that support the computing curriculum. The online guides are very useful because they provide clear explanations and examples of computational thinking, computer science concepts as well as resources for using Scratch, the free programming language that was developed at MIT. The site also houses over sixty cross-curricular lesson plans to support computational thinking.

Bers, M. U. (2021). Coding as a playground: Programming and computational thinking in the early childhood classroom. Routledge. 

In Coding as a Playground, Dr. Marina Bers outlines how the process of learning to code for young learners can be fun, challenging and engaging. Through stories about her own background as a young researcher and observations of students in classrooms, Bers aligns the powerful ideas in computer science to the powerful ideas in literacy, linking the two and demonstrating that coding is absolutely developmentally appropriate for younger students. She outlines seven coding stages for young learners, ranging from emergent to purposefulness. This book will be useful for any educator interested in engaging students in computational thinking, literacy and exploration. 

Committee on STEM Education of the National Science & Technology Council (2018) Charting a course for success: America’s strategy for STEM education

This report by the Committee on STEM Education, which is composed of members from government agencies and departments invested in STEM education, outlined goals and a vision for STEM education for the upcoming years. The goals are to build strong foundations for STEM literacy, increase diversity and equity in STEM and prepare the future workforce. The report detailed the current state of STEM education in our country, which is growing, but still lagging behind other countries. Additionally, the report proposed a five-year pathway to success, including examples and resources. This report will be useful to all school district leaders and teachers interested in bolstering support for STEM education.

Dillivan, K. D., & Dillivan, M. N. (2014). Student Interest in STEM Disciplines: Results from a Summer Day Camp. Journal of Extension, 52(1). Retrieved October 21, 2020, from

This study proposes that participating in STEM summer day camps can increase student interest in STEM focused college majors and careers and in the future. This report details the responses of fourteen 3rd-6th grade  students involved in 4-H summer stem camp in August 2012. and use surveys to measure student interest after they participated in experiential learning a problem-based learning and hands-on science. The limitations of the study are that it was a very small sample of students and the surveys were taken at one point in time and don’t really indicate whether it influences their decision about college majors or stem careers. However the content of the journal article was interesting as it examined the relationship between inquiry-based learning and experiential learning.

Fleming, L. (2017). Worlds of making: Best practices for establishing a makerspace for your school. Corwin Sage. 

In Worlds of Making Laura Fleming sets forth practical ideas for organizing, planning and creating a makerspace in a school or Library. She defines the makerspace movement, and includes clear examples that demonstrate how educators and students can create a makerspace culture in their learning environment. The activities and outlined in her brief book range from low-tech to high-tech, all the way from crafts to 3D printing. This book will be especially useful for educators interested in bringing their students from consumption to creation.

Goudvis, A., Harvey, S., Buhrow, B., Halverson, K., & Joseph, E. (2019). Inquiry illuminated: Researcher’s workshop across the curriculum. Heinemann. 

In Inquiry Illuminated the authors share a framework for inquiry with four steps: Immerse, Investive, Coalesce, and Take Public. Additionally, she discusses the six “Cornerstones of Inquiry” to foster inquiry learning. Woven into those cornerstones are excellent examples of inquiry based teaching and learning activity and mini-lesson ideas. This book is an essential tool for elementary school teachers that want to improve inquiry, writing and discussion among their students, particularly in science and social studies.

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. 

Invent to Learn gives a wonderful history of the maker movement, compares constructivism and constructionism and sets forth multiple design models. Stager and Martinez also describe the eight elements of a good project, and what makes an effective prompt for a project or challenge. They go on to give practical suggestions for items to stock up a makerspace, and how to develop a maker culture and shape the makerspace learning environment. In this book, you will also find countless resources to explore. This book is a fundamental resource for any teacher or librarian that wants to create a Makerspace in their learning environment.

 November, A. C. (2012). Who owns the learning? Preparing students for success in the digital age. Solution Tree Press. 

          In Who Owns the Learning, Alan November gives a first-hand account of how he used his Digital Learning Farm to allow students to take ownership of their learning. his students were able to participate in work that was meaningful to them to become researchers, global learners and meaningful contributors to society. November describes his process of students shifting roles “passive receptors of information into active drivers of their educational experiences.” Also he includes the transformation of libraries in his model. Although this book is now eight years old, it still has powerful implications for our approach to education today. This book will be useful for any teacher or School leader that wants to transform learning for students.

Partnership for 21st Century Learning (2019). Framework for 21st Century Learning.

The Battelle for Kids and the Partnership for 21st-Century Learning designs frameworks to support teachers, education experts and leaders in understanding the skills that students need to be successful in the future. The website is home to the Framework for 21st Century Learning, the Framework for 21st Century Learning Definitions, and the 21st Century Learning for Early Childhood Framework and Guide. The Learning Hub hosts blogs, publications, audio, video and success stories. This site is a useful tool for any educator or district leader seeking to take learning with technology to a higher level.

Portnoy, L. (2020). Designed to learn: Using design thinking to bring purpose and passion to the classroom. ASCD.

In Designed to Learn, Lindsay Portnoy asserts that students are empowered to use their learning that they are passionate about, especially when they can see how it is relevant to their lives. When students are able to find purpose in their learning, they consider questions about it and solve problems. Portnoy provides strategies for guiding students through the five stages of design thinking. She suggests methods for providing students different pathways to learning the same objectives. This book is a useful resource for a teacher that hopes to strengthen their instructional practice by shifting to a design thinking approach.

Additional References

Grover, Shuchi & Sengupta, Pratim & Gunckel, Kristin & Jeon, Soobin & Dede, Christopher & Puttick, Gilly & Bernstein, Debra & Wendell, Kristen & Danahy, Ethan & Cassidy, Michael & Shaw, Fay & Damelin, Daniel & Biswas, Gautam & Dominguez, Ximena & Vahey, Phil & Yadav, Aman & Metcalf, Shari & Dickes, Amanda & Covitt, Beth & Larimore, Rachel. (2020). Integrating STEM & Computing in PK-12: Operationalizing Computational Thinking for STEM Learning & Assessment. 

Halverson, Erica & Sheridan, Kimberly. (2014). The Maker Movement in Education. Harvard Educational Review. 84. 495-504. 10.17763/haer.84.4.34j1g68140382063. 

Harada, V. H. (2015). At the Core of the Commons: A Personal Reflection. In D. V. Loertscher (Ed.), The Library Learning Commons Start a Revolution: Papers of the Treasure Mountain Research Retreat #22 (pp. 2–9). essay, Learning Commons Press, a division of Hi Willow Research and Publishing . 

Li, Yeping & Schoenfeld, Alan & Disessa, Andrea & Graesser, Arthur & Benson, Lisa & English, Lyn & Duschl, Richard. (2020). Computational Thinking Is More about Thinking than Computing. Journal for STEM Education Research. 10.1007/s41979-020-00030-2. 

  Lindstrom, D., Thompson, A., & Schmidt-Crawford, D. (2017, July 3). The Maker Movement: Democratizing STEM Education and Empowering Learners to Shape Their World. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education.

 Nouri, J., Zhang, L., Mannila, L., & Norén, E. (2020, January 2). Development of computational thinking, digital competence and 21st century skills when learning programming in K-9. Education Inquiry.

Reid, L. (2019). Virtual Library Learning Commons Inquiry. Canadian School Libraries Journal, 3(1).

Sentance, S., Barendsen, E., & Schulte, C. (2018). Computer science education perspectives on teaching and learning in school. Bloomsbury Academic. 

Sethi, Ricky. (2020). Essential Computational Thinking. 

Starker, R. (2017). Transforming libraries: A toolkit for innovators, makers, and seekers. EdTechTeam Press. 

Wing, Jeannette. (2006). Computational Thinking. Communications of the ACM. 49. 33-35. 10.1145/1118178.1118215. 

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