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Summer academy focuses on STEM activities

By Kayla Asbury, Staff Writer
KENNY KEMP | Putnam Review
Kindergarten children hold up “clouds” while participating in a Mad Scientist Camp musical performance at Winfield Middle School.
KENNY KEMP | Putnam Review Fourth-grader Sarah McCartney holds up a telescope while playing the part of the astronomer Galileo.

For three weeks in July, lab coats, goggles, science, art and music filled the halls of Winfield Middle School, during Putnam County School’s “Mad Scientist” summer academy.

“It’s all geared toward science activities this year,” said Tonya Casto, an administrator for the summer academy. “Each year we incorporate a theme. Last year was camping; before that it was pirates, now it’s lab coats and science.”

Putnam County students from kindergarten through the fifth grade were able to participate in the free camp, offered by the Putnam Summer Academy.

A day at camp began with breakfast, announcements and a daily joke, then students were cycled through art, music and STEM classes.

Even music classes were science-based. Students practiced songs about matter, rocks, clouds, the food chain and the life of a tree to perform at a concert on July 27.

The performance included the songs and appearances from children dressed as popular scientists like Albert Einstein and Galileo,

“It’s focused on STEM activities, music and art and everything is focused on science,” said Jason Skanes, a music teacher at the academy. “In art they focus on science activities where they can create their own art. In music we pretty much do our own thing as long as it’s centered around science.”

Around 130 students were enrolled at the academy, which is a chance for Putnam County teachers to prevent “summer slide,” according to Skanes.

“People say during the summer months, students lose a lot of learning, or comprehension of things they get during the school year,” Skanes said. “So not only is it a great educational program, but it’s another way of getting students active during the summer if all they want to do is lay around.”

If she wasn’t at camp, Kendall Marcum would “probably just sitting on my couch with nothing to do.”

“It’s educational,” Skanes said. “They learn a lot, but it also gets them out of the house and into the community to meet some new friends.”

Marcum, 10, was participating in the camp with her friend, Ember Dunn.

The pair enjoyed the art and STEM portions of the academy the most, especially mixing paint into potions during art class and creating marble roller coasters during STEM class.

Kids also learned how to build cities and three-dimensional figures during the week and also learned to mix paint to create colors.

“The kids love being here,” Casto said. “It’s definitely the fun side of teaching the students and the teachers have a great time with it.”

Reach Kayla Asbury at, call 304-348-3051 or follow @kasbury_ on Twitter.


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