GILBERT — Over the past week, the June Harless Center for Rural Educational Research and Development, part of the College of Education at Marshall University, has hosted “Camp Create” at the Larry Joe Harless Community Center in Gilbert. The camp was free to all students entering 2nd through 5th grade.
“Camp Create” – which is being held in memory of James H. “Buck” Harless - focused on engaging children with real technology and creative robotics while integrating the arts.
In 2000, Buck Harless provided money for the June Harless Center to launch at Marshall University. The center was to provide educational outreach for rural communities, such as Gilbert. The center has grown beyond expectation over the last 14 years because of Buck’s generosity and after his passing, the June Harless Center talked about a way to honor him and the best way they felt they could come up with was to come in to his community and to provide a program that was fun, engaging and free for area children.
The camp exposes the children to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), creating a greater interest for those subjects, which is good news for the local, state and national economies.
It is predicted that STEM jobs will continue to expand as the U.S. economy recovers from the Great Recession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that at least 8,654,000 U.S. STEM jobs will exist in 2018, not including self-employed STEM individuals. That number for W.Va. alone is 25,000 new jobs to be filled.
This is the first year the Camp Create program has come to Gilbert, and they have had a great turn out with approximately 30 campers from age 7 to 10.
“We hope to make this an annual program for the Gilbert area,” said Marshall University’s Tarabeth Brumfield, who is in charge of directing the program.
The program that Camp Create used is called Arts and Bots, a program from Carnegie Mellon University’s Create Lab. The June Harless Center has a partnership at Carnegie Mellon Create Lab so they are able bring the things created there to bring to other communities.
“Along with our people from The June Harless Center and Marshall University, we have volunteers and some of the staff from the Larry Joe Harless Community Center helping with our camp, this has played a huge part in the success of Camp Create. The community, as a whole, also helped by donating recyclable materials used to build the robots, which helped in saving money on purchasing materials. We have had such great support from this community and we hope to do this for years to come,” said Brumfield.
The children’s finished products will be displayed at the community center. A showcase of the creative robots will be held at the Larry Joe Harless Center today from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and is open to the public.