STEM camps to teach students how to build underwater robot, design outdoor gear and more |

STEM camps to teach students how to build underwater robot, design outdoor gear and more

Claire Cudahy
Nine different STEM programs are available to elementary, middle and high school students this summer through LTCC's community education program, CONNECT.
Courtesy / David Wise |

Want to learn how to build an underwater robot and launch it in Lake Tahoe? Or how to design outdoor gear? Maybe you’re interested in getting schooled on the science of sailing or the physics involved in rope rescue. All of this and more is available to Lake Tahoe students this summer through a variety of STEM workshops offered by Lake Tahoe Community College’s community education program, CONNECT.

“We offer non-credit classes and workshops in the areas of health and fitness, kids programs, professional development, life enhancement, and creative and culinary arts,” said Megan Waskiewicz, LTCC’s director of community education.

CONNECT puts on roughly 50 courses and workshops a quarter, and this summer nine of those include Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses for students in elementary, middle and high school.

All STEM courses are five days long and are held for three hours each day.

“I think it’s awesome because the STEM camp will be a good opportunity for project-based learning, so you can do hands-on projects which there isn’t necessarily as much of in school,” said David Wise, co-director of Tahoe STEM Camp. “It’s one of the best ways to learn and foster interest.”

Wise, a South Tahoe High graduate who went on to earn a degree in mechanical and ocean engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will be teaching two of the STEM programs this summer.

“I’m doing one that’s on ocean exploration, so we’re going to talk about basic ocean physics and build little underwater robots called ROVs. On the last day we’ll take them down to the lake and launch them. They can swim to about 45 feet and have a camera on them,” explained Wise.

Wise will teach another course that will focus on mechanical design, programming and electronics, and culminate in a head-to-head robot competition on the last day.

Tahoe STEM Camp co-director Jamie Orr, who holds a doctorate in theoretical physics and research privileges at NASA Ames Research Center, will also be teaching two of the STEM courses offered this summer.

“I’m going to be doing a young inventors week where they learn how to truly invent a new product using 3-D printing and prototype devices,” said Orr.

Orr will also teach a “STEM Medley” course with a new topic and project each day.

The other STEM courses focus on topics like the science of sports, green energy, the science of sailing, and outdoor equipment design.

“I think for our students there is so much within our town that is focused on outdoor recreation and tourism, and all of those things are really wonderful, but it’s also neat to see what other nuances there are and opportunities within those areas, like the outdoor equipment design,” said Orr. “It gives a nice balance of opportunities for students and exposes them to industries that they may not realize could be up in Tahoe.”

“I think even if you’re not necessarily interested in science or math typically, some of the design thinking and problem solving processes that come up through this are pretty applicable to a lot of fields,” added Wise.

The STEM courses available to middle and high school students will be held from July 10 – 14 and July 24 – 28. Elementary students can participate in STEM courses from July 17 – 21.

“It’s really important for us that any student that wants to participate gets to,” said Orr. “So we’re making sure that financial aid is available to any student that is interested, and we’re doing that through business sponsorships and other donations.”

For registration and more information, visit or call 530-541-4660, extension 717.

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