South Carolina Governor’s School Provides Innovation Camp to Middle School Students with Support from Google Inc.

July 28, 2010

In June 2009, with funding from Google Inc., the Governor’s School for Science & Math (GSSM) launched a highly successful pilot program designed to teach technology, innovation and entrepreneurship skills to middle school students in Berkeley County, South Carolina. iTEAMS (Innovation, Technology & Entrepreneurship Among Middle Schoolers) camp was so successful that the education-focused duo of GSSM & Google teamed up again in June 2010.

A residential public high school for academically gifted students, the Governor’s School developed iTEAMS as an outreach effort for addressing the school’s – and Google’s – core focus on STEM education and careers as well as technology literacy, innovation and new economy entrepreneurship.
 
Collaborating with community partners, including Google and the Berkeley County School District, GSSM offered iTEAMS to rising 8th and 9th graders in every middle school in Berkeley County, placing special emphasis on minority participation. Campers were selected based on personal essays, teacher recommendations, grades, and developing interests in technology, engineering, science, business and/or math.  iTEAMS 2009 was held for one week and welcomed 42 campers. iTEAMS 2010 grew to two weeks and welcomed 84 campers.

Three hands-on, team-based challenges formed the core of the iTEAMS curriculum.  Challenges incuded Going Green, Going Global, and Going into Business. Divided into six teams, campers were encouraged to become critical thinkers and to work cooperatively to find solutions to their challenges. With technology at their fingertips, they used computer software and GPS navigational systems to assist in their discoveries.

Instructors included full-time teachers from Berkeley County schools, as well as one GSSM alumna who is a math teacher in nearby Charleston county. Assistant teachers were GSSM alumni and mentors, who pitched in daily, and Googlers from the company’s nearby data center in Goose Creek, SC.

Thanks to its partnership with Google, GSSM has held a reunion with its iTEAMS campers and followed up on individual academic accomplishments. Of the 42 campers from 2009, 71% are now enrolled in at least one career and technical education course; 30 of these are for high school credit.

"The iTEAMS camp is an extension of Google's commitment to the Berkeley County community to provide opportunities for young students who've shown an interest in computer science, technology and math,"  said Eric Wages, Google’s operations manager at the Berkeley County Data Center. "We were excited to help expand the program this year and to collaborate with the teachers at the Berkeley County School District and the leadership of GSSM."

To learn more about GSSM or iTEAMS, contact the SC Governor’s School for Science & Math by emailing kim@scgssm.org.