The Educational Opportunity Program's Black Student Access and Success Initiative, College of Engineering and STEM Academy, partnered with Building Blocks 2 Success to bring middle school students from the Portland area to the Oregon State campus for an overnight camp this summer, called Beaver Achiever STEM Camp. The participants gained a taste of college life as they stayed in university housing and ate at dining facilities.

Beaver Achievers met with Charlene Alexander, OSU Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, who spoke about the importance of diversity in STEM. Additionally, members from the student group oSTEM met with the Beaver Achievers to speak about the different paths they took to high education and the different majors available in STEM at OSU.

Members of OStem also helped during the afternoon STEM Machines activity. Students were guided through STEM problem-solving tasks to design machines to solve some of today’s real-world problems. The activity focused on the mechanical side of machine design and the use of battery packs.

Beaver Achievers also got the opportunity to tour some engineering research labs and work on Activity Bots. One of their hosts was Khawater Hussein, a current OSU student in the College of Engineering. The NSBE and Women of Color Caucus member showed the Beaver Achievers that there are women of color in STEM. She shared stories about challenges and triumphs as a woman of color in the engineering field, and helped them with activities. She also served as an overnight chaperone. 

Beaver Achievers used the "ActivityBot 360" robot kits to build and code a robot that is smart enough to make its way around a room on its own. Each team of two worked together on remote control navigation, visible light, infrared light, and ultrasonic sensors.

Organizers hope similar summer camps can be held in the future to provide additional opportunities for students to have positive interactions with university staff and students and a solid introduction to higher education.

~ Dorian Smith