Virtual Summer Camp Proves to be a Dairy Delight for 100 Area Middle School Students

STEM summer camp

The K-12 outreach programs at K-State Olathe include STEM summer camps for area middle school students. 

Recently, 100 Johnson County middle school students participated in a K-State Olathe virtual summer camp designed to teach them advanced scientific concepts and introduce STEM-related careers. K-State Olathe’s K-12 programming is supported by funds from the Johnson County Education Research Triangle.

“Fun with Food Science: Dairy Discovery Days” was conducted July 13-17 via Zoom. Throughout the week, a chef taught participants about the science behind milk-based foods and provided hands-on instruction to make those items. K-State Olathe’s STEM-focused staff and industry professionals helped students explore academic programming and real-life applications in science, technology, engineering and math.

Camp topics and activities include:

  • learning about basic food safety;
  • understanding food chemistry concepts such as processing and coagulation;
  • exploring nutrition concepts, reading nutrition labels;
  • making cheese, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream and buttermilk; and
  • visiting (virtually) a dairy farm to explore job roles.

The camp capped off with campers showing their homemade cheese or ice cream and sharing how they flavored it to make it uniquely reflect themselves.

“There was a ton of interest from both middle school students and teachers,” said Laura Loyacono, director of community and education engagement and a camp leader. “Students wanted to learn how to make cheese, ice cream and other dairy products at home, and educators wanted to learn about content and activities to use in the classroom.”

Participant demand was so high that enrollment was raised from 50 to 100.

K-State Olathe will offer a STEM-oriented summer camp in 2021 and is exploring spin-off “micro camps” for K-12 teachers. The campus offers multiple masters and doctoral degree programs in animal health, food production and safety, leadership and education and hospitality.