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a student smiling in front of a computer with a presentation on the screen. the Picture Maker Wheatley Tactile Diagramming Kit sits on the table next to them showing extra pieces to the left and the figure of a person on the right. Summer Fun at the 2021 Virtual ExCEL Camp

Camping is a huge part of summer vacation. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many children from participating in a traditional summer camp. Back by popular demand, we hosted the second Virtual ExCEL Camp for students from late June to early August.

The Virtual ExCEL Camp included a live hour at 2:00 PM ET, Monday through Friday, and was free to all registrants. Camp sessions were separated by age groups and were recorded for all to watch.

A grant from the Hearst Foundation provided students from the U.S. with an APH product to use during camp. Our first camp instructors, Michelle Horseman of the Lighthouse for the Blind & Low Vision in Winter Haven, Florida and Erica Lynn Drake Ross of the Maryland School for the Blind, had 4-6-year-old campers engaging with Carousel of Textures and Quick-Draw Paper to design rooms in their homes, the front of their house, and their neighborhood.

Layout of a home with family members inside using various pieces of textured paper

Our second camp was a mystery! Using the Picture Maker Wheatley Tactile Diagramming Kit, instructors, Kimmi Dotseth and Laura Prelsnik of the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, guided 7–10-year-old campers in making flow charts, graphs, basic computer code, and games. Campers were so excited about these activities and shared many photos with smiling faces.

side by side photos of two students using the picture maker tactile diagram kit. Student on the left has built a flow chart, student on the right has built a the figure of a person

STEM Camp for 11-13-year-olds was next, with students using the Snap Circuits Jr. Access Kit. Instructors, Mary Kate Harris of Fairfax County Public Schools (VA) and Kathy Bingham of the Utah School for the Blind, taught students how to build series and parallel circuits; experiment with resistors, conductors, and insulators; and demonstrate the Law of Conservation.

Side by side photos of students with snap circuits jr kits. Student on left is smiling with the kit and instructions spread out in front of them. Student on the right leans in closely to the snap circuits board as they read the braille on one of the pieces

Side by side photos of students with snap circuits jr kits. Student on the right smiles in front of a completed circuit including a fan. student on the left assembles pieces on the board in front of a laptop.

Side by side photos of students with snap circuits jr kits.student on the left smiles at the camera while pressing the button on the board that makes the propeller spin and light come on. student on the right assembles pieces at a kitchen table.

Instructors, Jen Stelmach of Duval County Public Schools (FL) and Amber Hap of Charlotte-Meklenburg Schools (NC), taught our Career Camp for students ages 14-22. Using JAWS and ZoomText, which Vispero provided for free, campers wrote resumes, applied for jobs, practiced interviewing, and advocated for work accommodations.

Space Sensory Camp for pre-symbolic learners was next, using Flip-Over Concept Books: Textures; Parts of a Whole; and Line Paths. Instructors, Sarah Bernier and Erica McKinney of Floyd County Schools (GA), engaged campers in hot and cold sensory water play, counting stars in the sky, and developing spatial awareness.

To support our Spanish-speaking students, STEM Camp was offered in Spanish, using the Snap Circuits Jr. Access Kit. Instructors, Bernice Medina of Foundation for Blind Children (AZ) and Taina Gracia Acaba of Puerto Rico, taught students how to build series and parallel circuits; experiment with resistors, conductors, and insulators; and demonstrate the Law of Conservation.

Use camp recordings for supplemental instruction with your students; for learning how to use APH products during remote instruction; and as an opportunity to learn how others teach our students.

 

Stay tuned for upcoming APH Virtual ExCEL Camp weeks during the 2021-2022 school year!

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