“Music in STEM” Spring Camp: Music to Our Ears

More than 40 students from various Chicago Public Schools (CPS), including Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School, Corliss High School, Lake View High School and Clark Academic Preparatory Magnet High School, attended the Scientists for Tomorrow (SfT) “Music in STEM” spring camp from April 6-8th.

The program, hosted by the Department of Science and Mathematics at Columbia College Chicago (CCC) in partnership with After School Matters (ASM), gave high school students the opportunity to experience a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) college workshop taught by Marcelo Caplan, Associate Professor of the Science and Mathematics Department and co-founder of Scientists for Tomorrow, and Evelyn Oropeza, SfT Program Coordinator. CCC undergraduates and SfT staff members Daniela Cortez, Tyler Davis, Filip Zadro, Maria Dantas, Jose Perez and Andrea Salcedo, along with graduate student Ignacio Mendez, also contributed in the building process.

For three full days, the students focused on building a well-tuned diatonic scale xylophone, and an electric organ based on fundamental electricity principles, which facilitated their understanding of the relationship between STEM and music.

Sixteen-year-old Lake View High School sophomore student, Oleh Lemishka, described the experience as eye opening and enriching. “I had never thought about music and science combined. In 15 hours I found the connection between these things,” Lemishka said.

Lemishka discovered the relationship between STEM and music, but was already aware of the advantage STEM programs offer him for the future. “It brought me a lot of college experience which is going to be helpful in two years. I experienced the pace of work of a college professor,” Lemishka said. Lemishka will continue exploring STEM courses during high school and plans to study a STEM related career in college.

For 15-year-old Clark Academic Preparatory Magnet High School student, Marvin Gladney, this learning opportunity was a challenging “roller coaster.” Gladney talked about the difference between high school teachers and college professors. “It was challenging at first because he (Caplan) is fast. Nothing like elementary school or high school where they take you hand by hand. You have to actually get it and earn it,” Gladney said. Gladney was glad he took the risk of applying and summed up his experience in his first STEM spring camp as full of “friendship, organization and cooperation.”

After 15 hours of building and learning, showtime was here! Students were ready to showcase the product of their work and the valuable lessons they took from the camp in front of their parents, teachers, SfT staff and distinguished representatives of ASM.

Anxiety was building up. Perfectly tuned xylophones served as background music. “I hear the xylophones, they sound in tune,” Marcelo said as he initiated the showcase.

The evening was followed by the presentation of a short video edited by Dave Morton, Director of CCC’s visualization lab, summarizing the student’s experience in the camp. https://vimeo.com/124526446

Then,  two students took the stage and shouted “1, 2, 1, 2, 3, go!” as they played “Mary had a Little Lamb” with their brand new xylophones. Other students talked about how the spring camp emphasized teamwork, organization, independency and most importantly linked the path between high school and college. “It wasn’t easy at all, it took time and knowledge,” said one of the students.

While the students took away valuable skills from the camp, their journey to college is only beginning! Scientists for Tomorrow and After School Matters are looking forward to seeing these dedicated students return and participate in the ComEd Youth Ambassadors and Junior Research Scientists programs next summer 2015!