The U.S. Department of Education announced last week that President Donald Trump will donate $100,000 from his salary to the agency to support a summer camp for students focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
“We want to encourage as many children as possible to explore STEM fields, in the hope that many develop a passion for these fields,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said at a 26 July White House press briefing where she accepted the gift.
But the White House and the department released no details about the planned camp, leaving many STEM professionals uncertain about what the Trump administration has in mind. But in interviews with ScienceInsider, they offered DeVos and Trump some unsolicited tips for running a successful camp.
Have a clear target demographic
“You need to understand the demographic you’re serving and their needs,” says Denese Lombardi, executive director of Girls Inc. in Washington, D.C., which runs a summer STEM and Leadership Academy. That could mean focusing just on girls, for instance, or students from a particular geographic area. Camp organizers should know “the area [campers have] grown up in, their age, their previous experiences with STEM, and the experiences they may want from your camp,” Lombardi says.
At the week-long See Blue STEM Camp held on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington, co-directors Craig and Margaret Schroeder focus on students who come from demographic groups that are underrepresented in technical fields. “I wanted to provide STEM learning opportunities to underrepresented students who may not otherwise be able to afford similar experiences during…