WHITTIER – Sitting quietly at a desktop workstation in a Pioneer High School classroom, Minelli Chitica is dreaming up ideas on how to build her own autonomous robot.

A member of this year’s Team Science Summer Camp, Chitica, an incoming Whittier High School freshman, is relishing her first day of the VEX Robotics workshop, which introduces curious students to the world of robotics.

“I can envision what I want to build in my head, and I know that Team Science Camp is going to give me the opportunity to find out how to build it,” Chitica said July 10, the first day of the program. “It’s already a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see what else the program has in store.”

Pioneer High is the host site of the annual Team Science Summer Camp, a three-week program providing 350 students from five counties and 44 cities throughout Southern California with fun, hands-on science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) activities.

“Team Science has been giving these kids the opportunity to explore their love of math and science from career professionals for 24 years now,” said Marie Mungaray, president and executive director of Team Science. “It has been an amazing success that provides students with stimulating summer activities.”

Team Science partnered with the Whittier Union High School District, Los Nietos, South Whittier and Whittier City school districts in 2013 to offer STEM education programs to local students.

This is the third year Pioneer is hosting the camp, which continues July 17, 18, 24 and 25.

Classes are led by active and retired industry professionals and teachers, as well as college students who volunteer their time and share their expertise, passion and knowledge.

Bellflower High School teacher Julio Guzman, a 17-year summer camp volunteer who is teaching the robotics course, said Team Science provides students valuable exposure to STEM careers and pathways.

“The VEX Robotics Workshop is unique because students will create non-remote-controlled robots using infrared technology, which is being used in a lot of industrial design and engineering,” said Guzman, who also teaches electronics and robotics technology at Cerritos College and Cal State Los Angeles. “These types of programs really encourage students to explore their options and think about what’s possible.”

This year’s summer camp offers 21 workshops in a vast array of STEM subjects, including aerodynamics, robotics, biology, astronomy, forensics, physics and engineering.

New workshops this summer include “It’s All About Me,” in which kindergarteners are encouraged to tune in to their five senses, and “Beginning Game Coding and Computer Science,” in which high school students are challenged to write their own computer programming code.

“The collaborative partnership between Team Science and our Whittier-area schools is steadfastly committed to providing our youth with diverse, unique and engaging STEM learning opportunities,” said Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson. “We are thrilled to hold a flagship summer science camp at Pioneer High School.”

For more information about the camp, visit www.summersciencecamp.net.


TEAMSCIENCE: Minelli Chitica, an incoming freshman at Whittier High School, designs concepts to build a robot in the VEX Robotics workshop being offered during the annual Team Science Summer Camp, a three-week STEM program at Pioneer High School.