STEM courses are becoming commonplace in classrooms across the country.
And Pinellas County is no different. In fact, the county is holding its first Science, Technology, Engineering and Math summer program.
More than 200 students, from fifth grade through middle school, are enrolled in the program this summer aimed at increasing students' exposure to STEM courses as they prepare for middle and high school.
The lessons range from engineering and robotics to science experiments.
Sophia Galbraith, an incoming fifth-grader at Safety Harbor, and her team was tasked with building a small soccer-playing robot that could kick a ball, as well as a goalie to block it. And they had to do it with Legos, batteries and her own ingenuity.
"We all use what we have and work together and we come out with some really cool things," Galbraith said. "It’s kind of hard. The first day we learned to program because you had to learn what everything means, and it’s also kind of hard when you’re building because if you make one mistake, it can mess up the whole entire thing."
Despite being just the first year for the program, school officials say students are responding positively.
"I truly believe there has to be buy in with learning so when you can highly engage the students like it happens in STEM and robotics, then they are in it," said Elementary District Science coach Kathleen Rankin. "They are in it to win it."
Fifth-grader I’yania Sarnoff said she does mind spending part of her summer in the classroom.
"It makes me feel like I’m in school," Sarnoff said. "But it’s fun school."
Rankin said the lessons increasingly challenge the students and hopefully kickstart an interest in more STEM fields of study.
The summer courses, which are filled up, are being held at eight Pinellas schools. School officials said there will be more STEM offerings in the fall.