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Free STEAMM Day Camp for Local Middle School Students

Three STEAMM students wade in the riverJune 29, 2021

Middle school students from Las Vegas and Mora will have a chance to learn to fly fish, tie flies, and make art in free, three-day science, technology, engineering, art, music, and math, or STEAMM, camp. 

The camp will run on July 20, 21, and 22. Registration is open now and closes on July 10. Students must have completed 6th, 7th, or 8th grades and priority will be given to students who can attend all three days. 

Funded by a grant from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Partnerships Office, the STEAMM camp will be run by the Conservation Science Center @ Highlands University. Shantini Ramakrishnan, a Highlands alumna and the conservation and restoration education program manager for the Conservation Science Center created the camp to help students get outside.  

“There is something therapeutic about spending days on the water, especially when you when you’re in the southwest,” Ramakrishnan said. “It’s been such a trying year that we wanted an excuse to get some local youth to come out and have a good time.”  

The camp will engage students in a range of activities including music, food, art, and learning about macroinvertebrates—something that Ramakrishan said is more fun than it sounds. Students will pick up rocks and scrape them off to find the macroinvertebrates that eat algae, and they’ll also disturb the sediment and use nets to scoop macroinvertebrates from the river bottom.  

“Once we get them into different nets, we’ll put them into trays and there’s a guide that will tell us what we’ve found,” Ramakrishnan says. “What we find tells you about the water quality of our river system. For example, may flies and stone flies are quite sensitive to pollutants, so if we find those that’s a good indicator that our water is in good shape.”  

STEAMM Camp students will also make art, play games, learn about beavers, and learn to tie flies based on some of the macro invertebrates they scoop up.  

“Fly fishing ties look like the adult insects that develop from the macroinvertebrates we find in our rivers. We want to make these and other cultural connections so our local youth can appreciate our river systems even more,” Ramakrishnan said. “This camp is designed to make learning a fun, engaging and exciting time in advance of our next school year.”