Building and programming robots, dance therapy and dissecting sheep brains are just a few of the immersive learning activities middle schoolers take part in each summer through the Full STEAM Ahead program at the Colorado Springs School (CSS). “This camp provides students with insight into just how fun learning can be,” says Program Director Amy Miller, English teacher at CSS.
Participants in the complimentary program include Peak Education Middle School Scholars from school districts across the Pikes Peak region, who spend two weeks exploring technology, the arts and science at CSS and around Colorado Springs.
The 45 scholars enjoy experiential learning projects and activities, such as building robots, writing fantasy stories, bouldering, learning to cook and designing a prototype trash compactor. Students also benefit from thematic field trips in partnership with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, Borealis Fat Bikes, the Space Foundation Discovery Center, Pure Bouldering Gym, Pikes Peak Makerspace and more.
“One student told me his school is low income and he rarely gets to go on field trips—that this was the first one he had been on in years,” says Carissa L., a CSS junior and Full STEAM Ahead mentor. “He was really excited, and it meant a lot to be a part of that.”
Through a partnership with area middle and high schools, Peak Education helps to close educational opportunity gaps for youth representing low-income backgrounds. Most Full STEAM Ahead participants are Peak Education Scholars entering seventh through ninth grades at partner schools in Harrison District 2, Colorado Springs District 11 and Manitou Springs District 14. Scholars are identified for their high academic potential, and they also receive educational enrichment, mentoring, college counseling and scholarship preparation services through Peak Education.
“I learned so many things about my brain and how it controls all of my senses,” said one seventh-grade participant. “Learning all of that made me want to look into more on my own.”