ANGLETON — The floors of Angleton Junior High School were dusted with colorful remnants of crafts during the last day of the Maker STEAM Camp — a free, week-long day camp filled with creative projects.

Rhonda Church, the school’s art teacher, led the event alongside drama instructor April Reck, with an emphasis on creativity, both in electronics and art.

This is the first year the school hosted the event, but faculty and volunteers say it won’t be the last.

“We planned the camp in just two weeks with limited funds. Within a day, the registration was full,” Church said.

Sixty kids from all over the county registered for their chance to develop art skills, mold crafts, learn to sew, experience 3D printed art, build circuit boards and LED rings and other projects, Church said.

Church taught art in other areas of the county before coming to Angleton ISD in June. She has been leading Maker Camps for seven years and wanted to continue the tradition in Angleton as a way of allowing children to experience hands-on education during the summer.

“There are lots of STEM camps and art camps in the area, but they’re really expensive,” Church said. “It’s important to keep this free and open to area kids who maybe don’t have the resources to attend another camp.”

Angleton Junior High Principal Alice Clayton said she hopes the camp can double in size next year when they’ll have more time to plan, apply for grants that can help fund the camp and have more volunteers.

“I’m sure if we had more than a couple of weeks to plan, more staff and adults would have volunteered,” Clayton said. “I’d like to see the program grow.”

Between teens and adults, there were eight volunteers helping the campers, who ranged in age from 7 to 17, Church said.

The kids learned to sew, which leaders said was a favorite among boys and girls. Additionally, they learned basic coding skills and how to solder circuit board parts.

“I’m just really glad that the school is supportive of integrating art into this program,” Church said. “This has been a great vehicle for skill development.”

School officials expect next year’s camp to be even larger, and they urge anyone interested in volunteering to let the principal know before the next camp session in July 2020, Church said.

“You know, art and science do go together,” Church said. “And that’s why it’s important we allow kids to create these projects, so they understand how they go together. Then when they go back to school they’re already ahead.”

Courtney Blackann is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0152.

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