February 08, 2022
STEM is More Than Hard Skills. Soft Skills Matter, Too
STEM is a wondrous world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—and so much more. As young, enthusiastic learners begin to explore their interests and venture into these fields, it’s important to not only teach them the concrete, technical concepts, but also the soft skills that can further enhance their ability to collaborate.
That’s why US Sports Camps have launched STEM Camps, as we walk campers through an exciting learning process – providing a unique opportunity to engage in academics and fun – we also aim to nurture the famous “Four Cs”—critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. These are considered core soft skills that define a successful STEM career.
The camps, which are in partnership with STEM Center USA, organically insert the four Cs into the all-day and half-day program to help students ages 6-17 years develop character and confidence. So, along with teaching courses like coding and robotics, to engineering and video game development, here are some ways USSC STEM Camps nurture campers’ soft skills for STEM:
1. Building critical thinking skills
Critical thinking encourages students to approach problems with flexibility. There’s not always a one-size-fits-all answer, and it’s up to them to develop their own, unique way to address an issue. They must learn how to identify a pain point, draft a potential solution, and iterate until they get to a place where they can confidently solve the problem.
At USSC STEM Camps, we encourage students to adopt the engineer-design thinking process: a series of steps that typically guide engineers through a problem. Engineer-design thinking puts a large emphasis on open-ended problem-solving, which teaches our students to pursue all possible solutions and learn from their mistakes. Whether they’re figuring out how to design machines, engineer vehicles, or code video games, we help foster a constant curiosity that inspires them to persevere through failures and achieve eventual and remarkable success.
2. Encouraging active communication
Successfully completing a project is one thing, but presenting it to others is another task entirely. When presenting their findings or accomplishments in the STEM field, it’s important that students know how to communicate so that the audience gets a solid understanding of their efforts.
“Kids need to know how to explain their work and share their results,” explains Lavanya Jawaharlal, co-founder of STEM Center USA. “When they can present with clarity and confidence, they make a huge difference and have the power to inspire others who are listening.”
Although young STEM lovers may not yet be thinking about their future career aspirations or college pursuits, communication skills prepare them for real-world situations where they must defend their thinking. At USSC STEM Camps, communication plays a big role in their educational journey. As they work with their peers and instructors, students learn how to voice their thoughts and contribute to crucial conversations surrounding their work.
3. Fostering healthy and fun collaboration
US Sports Camps’ STEM Camps place an emphasis on teaching necessary technical skills, and also ensuring that students have plenty of opportunities for collaboration. STEM experts don’t succeed by working alone—they depend on each other for discussion, correction, and inspiration.
Our camps guide students through lessons that require frequent collaboration. We encourage them to interact with the curriculum and one another as they engage in active learning. As they participate in friendly robotic competitions, test out their peers’ virtual reality spaces, or complete fun DIY take-home projects, students learn the importance of celebrating their achievements together. Community and collaboration help build meaningful, long-lasting relationships and make the camp experience all the more memorable.
4. Embracing unlimited creativity
A typical development cycle involves research, prototyping, and iteration. This journey allows STEM enthusiasts to maximize their creativity and think outside the box.
USSC STEM Camps create a safe space for students to experiment using their imagination and STEM knowledge. Trying new things paves the way for new possibilities, solutions, and ways of thinking. Creativity propels students to generate new ideas. For instance, there are various ways to program a machine or make a wearable electronic device. The end results may look different, but each solution achieves the end goal. In the world of STEM and at our camps, this type of thinking makes an incredible difference—and pushes students forward in their learning.
Register for STEM Camp today
USSC STEM Camp is currently open for registration in four locations: three in California at UC Irvine, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara and one in Florida at IMG Academy. In 2023, our programs will extend to other locations along the west and east coast.
Prospective campers and curious parents can read the website for more information about courses and enrollment.