ANDERSON – Assembling the Aerogarden, learning about supply chains, and decorating personal folders were all planned on Monday, the first day of the Food Engineer Adventure summer camp.

The camp, hosted by Purdue Polytechnic Institute in Anderson, is taking place this week at Anderson Public Schools’ D26 Career Center cooking class.

Kayla Donald, 13, who will enter eighth grade at Highland High School this fall, said she is interested in participating because she hopes to become an engineer.

“I learned how food helps the economy,” she said of her first day at camp.

The camp is one of several science, technology, engineering, and math programs offered this summer by Purdue Polytechnic Institute to encourage young students to explore STEM education and career opportunities.

Priced at $20 each, other camps include Technology and Career Research for grades 7 to 12, Innovation with a Maker’s Mind for grades 5 to 8, and Drones and Agricultural Technology for grades 6 to 9.

Some, such as Puppy Publication for students in grades 2 through 5, and Robobusters, which will take place in the evening, are designed to increase parent and family participation.

While most of them attend ACS schools, members come from nearby communities including Alexandria, Muncie and Pendleton.

Purdue Polytechnic Institute is one of many houses of worship, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations offering special summer camps.

The food adventure camp includes a tour of Smart Farm in Greenfield, a Nestle team presentation and of course a cooking challenge.

With mouth-watering team names like spicy berries and pomegranates, 19 fifth through eighth graders completed an entry quiz to gauge how much they knew about food science and shopping. Their knowledge will be retested at the end of the week.

Faye Barber-Dansby, Senior Lecturer at Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s School of Engineering Technology, said the camp is a way to introduce students to the various technologies and engineering fields involved in producing and distributing things that interest us all.

“They can have a great career and never leave town with a world-class education at Purdue,” she said. “Our job is to educate all scientists about what is possible. Our mission is to (offer) exposure because there is so much demand in the world of work.”

Emily Holk, D26’s culinary director and one of the culinary adventure camp instructors, said it helps introduce students to the various educational paths available through D26.

“It’s nice to introduce other people to the technology side of things,” she said. “I didn’t know any of that until I went to college.”

Treva Bostick also works as an instructor at the food adventure camp. But as the ACS Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, she has a vested interest in making girls and students of color aware of the possibilities of STEM.

Carter Bates, Alexandria Jr. Sr. seventh grader. High school, said he likes to help his mom in the garden and decorate cakes for 4. Even before camp, Carter said he thought he might be interested in starting a career in the food industry, but hadn’t heard of the many career opportunities he was now presented with.

“I knew some of it, but I didn’t know so much. It’s a big industry.”

To follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter @RebeccaB_THB or call 765-640-4883.

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