Nearly 60 Marysville middle school students voluntarily extended their school year by attending a three-week summer camp.
The 2014 BASE Camp is being held Monday through Thursday mornings, June 9-26, at Bunsold Middle School.
Students will show what they've learned in an end-of-camp presentation at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 26, in the auditorium of the school, 14198 state Route 4. The event is open to the public.
Director Chris Hoehn said the summer camp has been evolving recently, but took a major leap last year when it came under the umbrella of the Bunsold After School Enrichment (BASE) program.
BASE is a program for seventh- and eighth-graders held four days a week during the regular school year. It is licensed by the Ohio Department of Education and supported by the Ohio Afterschool Network and the Marysville school district. It is funded through a five-year federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.
The grant that funds BASE allows the camp to offer project-based learning and pays for Hoehn and his eight staff members as well as some transportation.
One bus makes seven different stops around Marysville to pick up students every morning and take them back at the end of the day. Hoehn said about 30 kids ride the bus.
The project-based learning is what really gets the students excited, Hoehn said. Campers choose one of four pathways: botany, the outdoors, robotics or video production. All are based around science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. Each group takes one field trip a week.
The BASEic Botany program includes construction of a greenhouse and raised garden beds.
Incoming seventh-grader Lan Do, 12, was more than willing to give up some of her summer break to participate.
"I love plants and how they grow and produce all these different things for life," Lan said.
She said the best part has been building a three sisters garden.
"It's when there are three plants that help each other to grow. We get to help the community with extra plants," she said.
Food-bearing plants could be used help families in need, Hoehn explained.
In BASE Outdoors, activities have included shooting a bow and arrow and building birdhouses. Students also went fishing and canoeing.
The Robotics group built Lego robots and designed obstacle courses. Its most recent field trip was to COSI in downtown Columbus.
The "Lights, Camera, Action" video-production group developed a public service announcement called "Stop, Drop & Play" -- an effort to get kids to put down their electronic devices and go outside to play. The group will visit WSYX in Columbus to watch a live newscast.
Hoehn said project-based learning lets students explore real-world problems and come up with answers.
"They're getting to work with their peers," he said. "They're actually engaged in something where they get a big say in what's going on."
"They really, truly like the classes they're in," Hoehn said. "I'm hearing my teachers say they're doing such a good job of working together and helping each other out."
Thanks to the grant funding, the tuition of $50 per student goes back into the program to fund future camps.
"The kids are here be-cause they want to be here. They're not sitting in the classroom being forced to take a subject maybe they don't want to take," Hoehn said.
"I heard one of the kids say, 'This is awesome. I'm signing up for this next summer,' " he said.
Count Lan among those who want to come back next year.
"Yes, totally," she said.