Since COVID-19 began spreading in the US and quickly established as a global pandemic in March of 2020, the NSF-funded STEM SEALS team at North Florida College faced the touch decision to either
cancel their inaugural hands-on STEM enrichment camp planned for Summer 2020 or rushing at full speed to take it virtual. The biggest concern in making the decision to go virtual was a passionate belief in the importance of not losing the hands-on focus that had been planned. After all, the STEM SEALs effort at NFC was designed to expand access to high quality STEM experiences for historically underserved students in a high poverty, rural area. Changing from the in-person delivery to distance learning with minimal preparation presented a daunting challenge and also a unique opportunity; the opportunity to study the process and provide guidance to other STEM providers who are considering a move to a virtual platform. This exploratory study aimed to (1) identify the barriers to moving STEM enrichment programming in a rural environment from in-person to virtual activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, (2) describe key decisions that were made in transitioning to the virtual format along with the rationale behind those decisions, and (3) disseminate best practices that emerged from the inaugural effort.
Zulli Lowe, R., Smith, A., Prout, C., Maresch, G. G., Bacot, C., Sapp, L., & Eustace, B. (2021). Taking STEM enrichment camps virtual: Strategies & reflections from quick pivot due to COVID-19 [Paper presentation]. 2021 Integrated STEM Education Conference, Virtual.