Earlier this summer, dozens of students invaded the SAU campus with unbridled eagerness. They can't wait to play with rockets, apply Newton's laws, and attach CO2 chambers to wooden cars.
Their experiences were part of the sixth annual Racing Into Engineering camp for 6th, 7th and 8th-graders interested in math and science.
"All the students who come here, they're excited," said Stephanie Reagan, an SAU engineering and physics student who volunteered to help at the camp. "They learn things a lot of students don't learn until high school. They get a leg up on what they'll be doing in the future."
Students attest to the difference the camp makes in their perception of math and science.
"In school, I don't like science at all, but here they make it more [fun] to do," said Arthur Bell, a student at Sudlow Intermediate School in Davenport.
Real-world application of math and science seems to be the key in helping students make the connection to its importance in everyday life.
"They can actually use the math and use the science directly instead of just reading it out of a book and maybe doing a class experiment," said camp director and industrial engineering professor, Mike Opar.
"They're right at that age where they're looking at math and they might not see an application for it, but here we can show them that math counts, you can actually use this.
"One kid said, 'If i knew math were this much fun, I'd enjoy it a whole lot more,' and that's what we want them to do: get excited about math and science."