BERLIN — While other teenagers spent the month of July on the beach, 25 dedicated Stephen Decatur High School students spent 17 days learning about engineering and science and acquiring a host of other skills in media and technology, language arts and mathematics at a Summer Academy.
With a cross-curricular approach to learning, students studied the history and the construction of various types of bridges and applied those skills as they constructed their own model bridges for a competitive culminating activity.
During the program, participants journeyed to Pocomoke where they had the opportunity to study the effects of the environment on bridge construction and the safety and support systems that are being implemented during the renovation project of the Pocomoke Bridge.
“I have definitely learned a lot about engineering and I was able to use that learning as I constructed my own bridge,” said sophomore Kaya Purnell.
While the focus of the Summer Academy has been STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), students also narrated their experiences with photography and read the John Henry Patterson non-fiction piece, The Man-eaters of Tsavo, which chronicles the author’s experiences battling lions during the 1907 construction of a railroad bridge in Kenya. Some of the photographs taken by the students, along with their news writing, will be featured in the SDHS yearbook spread for the Summer Academy.
“Johns Hopkins University offered a similar program this summer and I believe that ours was every bit as challenging for the students,” said Mary Berquist, the Summer Academy coordinator. “It is our goal to combine fun with a truly enriching experience so that students do not suffer a lapse in learning during the summer months. I think we accomplished that.”