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280 Kane St. STE #2
South Williamsport, PA
United States

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County Hall Corner: Full STEAM Ahead

For many youngsters, summer means going to summer camp. Many people will attest that it was at a summer camp that their life turned around, or they found their faith or calling in life, or maybe even met their life mate. But there are those that cannot afford this opportunity, and among those are young

For many youngsters, summer means going to summer camp. Many people will attest that it was at a summer camp that their life turned around, or they found their faith or calling in life, or maybe even met their life mate. But there are those that cannot afford this opportunity, and among those are young people who need it the most.

It was with this idea that the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation, through the PA CareerLink Bridges to the Future in-school youth program, implemented an innovative career exploration program called Camp STEAM. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. For many years, education has placed a concentration on the STEM part, but more and more, it has been discovered that students themselves feel that they also need the creativity that an understanding and appreciation of the arts provides.

Kristin Liberati, the In-School Youth Program Supervisor for Career Link located on 329 Pine Street in Williamsport, has for the last three years been directing a summer program entitled Camp STEAM. The program runs with twelve students in grades 9-12 that are referred from the Lycoming County Juvenile Probation Department. They report from Monday through Thursday, 9 AM to 3 PM, with lunch provided. The students days consists of classroom activities and field trips.

A classroom day opens with an icebreaker and some hands-on activity. The primary classroom work is a truly STEAM project — building a bridge. Using Popsicle sticks and hot glue, each student works for two weeks on constructing a bridge that will bear the most weight at the least cost. Other classroom activities involve lessons on soft skills, such as active listening, problem-solving skills development, and teamwork.

Twice a week are tour days, where the students go out in the morning and then in the afternoon to various employers in the area. In the space of the two-week camp, the students are able to interact with eight different work environments, such as the Community Theater League, UPMC, Penn College, and PMT (Precision Machining). Employers provide the students with a visual tour to show what they do, but even more important, share with the students what they look for in whom they hire. This is extremely valuable as the young people are hearing about expectations from someone who would actually be hiring them.

Kristin Liberati, the Program Supervisor who oversees nine counties in this area of Career Link programing, appears to be the perfect person for her job. She has a sincere passion to help these young people who are struggling with barriers, and finds it personally satisfying when she sees that she has helped them at least make a step toward success when they graduate from high school.

Those that have a similar passion can help through job shadowing. An employer who would be willing to have a student ‘shadow’ their work for a day or even a half a day, provides invaluable insight into what the career field actually entails. Kristin remarked, for example, that students who have their heart set on working in the veterinarian field find that when they actually see what a vet does in a given day have often changed their minds. Those in the community who would be interested in job shadowing should contact CareerLink. As it has been said, we rise by lifting others.

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