Earlier this month, I got to spend a little time with several super-smart tween girls at the wonderful Buttercup STEAM Camp in Atlanta.
What's Buttercup STEAM Camp all about?
Buttercup's mission is to provide "a unique week-long adventure for girls to learn, build, and code in a supportive environment."
It specifically offers an introduction to coding, robotics, and steampunk.
It's a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Think, Captain Nemo's Nautilus submarine from Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Or H.G. Wells' Time Machine!
Some call it "retro-futuristic." But I prefer the term "steampunk." It contains the word steam-- which could alternatively refer to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). And that's exactly what the clever folks at Buttercup had in mind!
Hmmm. Sounds a bit like a certain magic telescope I know....
What did we do?
We played games of course! It IS a camp, remember!
Only, with STEM & STEAM camps, the true goal is to sneak in as much learning as possible while still having fun!
At first I planned to just go in and do a traditional author reading from my book Lana & the Water Carrier. But I thought it would be more engaging to also play some games with them--the kind of game girls like Lana like to play. LOGIC GAMES!
The logic games we played are often referred to as Lateral Puzzles. With lateral puzzles the objective is to give the players a fact pattern or scenario and have them try to figure out the events that led up to that scenario. But they are only allowed to ask "Yes or No" questions.
It's tougher than it seems and requires generating a lot of creative possible solutions.
I like playing lateral puzzle games at STEM/STEM camps because they promote logical thinking.
And I especially like lateral thinking games for coding camps because coding typically requires you to already have the end solution in mind as you work toward it. That's exactly how lateral puzzles work!
The girls had fun trying to figure out the puzzles. They not only asked a lot of questions, they listened to each others questions and applied deductive reasoning to incorporate the knowledge gained from those questions. It's exactly how STEM/STEAM teams collaborate to solve real-world problems!
They eventually solved ALL of the puzzles! Needless to say, I was impressed!
At the end of our session, each girl received her own copy of my book! As I told them, the entire book is a puzzle. Even the narrator at the beginning is a mystery character whose identity is only revealed at the end of the book.
Can't wait to hear from them on whether they were able to match wits with Lana!
If you're interested in getting a copy of Lana & the Water Carrier, it is available wherever books are sold, including via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
If you're interested in having me conduct a similar session with your STEM/STEAM campers this summer, just let me know! I can be reached here or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you're interested in the Buttercup STEAM camp, they have another one scheduled for the week of July 10th. For more info, visit their website: https://www.buttercupsteam.io/.
Camp photo by Daniel Florres.