By Kierra Pixler, Managing Editor
Upon first walking into the Belton ISD Gifted and Talented Summer Enrichment Camp, you hear the voices of 3rd through 8th grade students excitedly working together to design, build and create. They could be designing their own computer game or creating a piece of art but either way, they are having fun while learning.
“We tried to identify areas that students would find interesting when developing the camp’s themes each year,” said Christina Flores, Coordinator of Advanced Academic Services for the District. “Our campers stay engaged in the lessons and activities in such a way that they don’t realize they’re learning or working like they would during a normal school day.”
Held annually, these camps allow for Belton ISD students that have been previously identified as Gifted and Talented (G/T) to participate in a two week long, half day enrichment program that is designed to challenge and expand their critical thinking and problem solving skills through fun educational projects. Each day students attend camp, they are introduced to a different lesson that includes hands on activities.
Flores highlighted the exciting tools and gadgets students utilize as a part of these activities as another way students stay engaged. Computer coding, programming TI-Rovers, and using physics principles to make water rockets are just a few examples.
G/T camp, which was held June 4 through June 15 this summer, also ensures that students are exposed to valuable life lessons, along with educational ones.
“We’re learning how to work together, and how to build structures using teamwork.” said Logan Winkler, a Sparta Elementary fourth grader.
Winkler, who was a part of the “Shipwrecked – A Deserted Island STEM Challenge” course, cited specific activities where he, along with a team of other campers, used math and science skills in the construction of a hut, a bridge, a waterproof container, a catapult and a raft.
Teachers from across the district take on this additional instruction time, outside of the normal school year, because it is something different.
“I’ve been teaching G/T camp the past several summers and I keep coming back because it’s a chance to teach in a way that kids can really learn through being creative and doing things that they genuinely enjoy,” said ReNae Esterby, who led the “Lets Get Messy” art history course. Esterby is a second grade math teacher at Chisholm Trail Elementary during the school year.
With more than 140 students benefiting from the fun while learning programs offered this summer, Flores hopes to expand the G/T Camp offerings to reach more students next summer.
Registration for Belton ISD’s G/T Camps for summer 2019 will begin next April.