CNM Summer Camps Spark Creativity, Critical Thinking and STEM Skills in NM Youths
Teacher and volunteer, David Estes, shows campers how to use wood glue and a vice.

CNM Summer Camps Spark Creativity, Critical Thinking and STEM Skills in NM Youths

Students in the Suncat Skilled Trades Summer Camp learned design, fabrication, green building techniques and STEM-based technical math all while building club houses.
June 20, 2019

Over the last week, CNM played host to dozens of 7th and 8th graders from around the region for the annual Suncat Skilled Trades Summer Camp, which aims to help young people build STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills and emphasizes the importance of trades work.

“We want our participants to learn how to apply STEM skills to the trades,” says Karen Grandinetti, enrollment strategist for the School of Applied Technologies. “So that they may then go on to high school and college with a foundation of knowledge that can lead them to success as adults.”

The cohort of middle schoolers worked on two mini housing projects all week. With guidance from field experts and volunteers, the students designed and constructed club houses that will be donated to a community organization upon completion.

Walking through the work space for the camp, sounds of paint brush strokes, hammering, sanding machines and the laughter of the kids who were soaking up the learning experience filled the area.

The students were organized into two teams: The blue team also known as “The Smurfs” and the yellow team also known as “The Cheese.”

This camper was tasked with painting the clubhouse frame.

“I like that we are able to be creative and build things but also have a lot of fun doing it,” says one camper. “Our instructors are here to teach and help us, but they also trust us to do the work ourselves, which is really cool.”

As a generation of trades workers in STEM fields retire, there is a growing need for young people to replace them. The Suncat Trades Summer Camp uses hands-on learning to show kids that there are lots of different paths they can take to lead successful and happy lives.

The students were able to hone their critical thinking skills by planning and executing the club house construction from start to finish. They also learned the importance of teamwork and communication.

“They can take what they’ve learned here and apply it to any aspect of their educational journey,” Karen says. “We want to nurture the natural creativity and precociousness of these students with hopes that they will use these skills in everyday life and in turn become the workforce of our future.”

The Suncat Trades Summer Camp is one of three summer camps hosted by CNM. The SciGirls Camp is open to girls ages 10 to 13 and will be held on July 15-19. SciGirls is a PBS show that encourages girls to explore STEM.

The AmeriTowne Camp is open to 4th and 5th graders and will be held on July 22-26. It provides lessons in free enterprise and the basic principles of our economic system. At the camp’s finale event, students work in teams to run their own town of nine shops for a day.

“I had a lot of fun and I learned so much,” says the camper. “I think I want to be a construction manager when I grow up.”

Learn more about CNM Summer Camps.

The Suncat Trades Summer Camp is just one of three summer camps hosted by CNM.