Thirteen high school students from Beni Mellal, a city located in the center of Morocco on the northwestern corner of Africa, are nearing the end of STEM Plus Africa, a three-week camp at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast. The camp, facilited by the European Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship Education, is the first of its kind at the College.
The students’ first day of camp was Aug. 4 and had their first field trip the following day—a visit to Metea Park in Fort Wayne for a biology lesson. Students changed out of their sneakers and rolled up their jeans to wade in Cedar Creek in their search for invertebrates. Once students collected their specimen in egg cartons and small plastic containers, they counted and collected their data. Many students pointed out that they had not seen a forest like Metea Park, as Morocco is more likely to be home to palm trees than maples.
Students learned how to make chocolate in a chemistry lesson and then visited DeBrand Fine Chocolates for a tour. They also learned how to play softball from the girls’ softball team at Snider High School, star gazed with an Ivy Tech Northeast astronomy teacher, built robots with the engineering program chair, and had time to shop at Fort Wayne’s shopping centers. They also visited Ball State University and Cedar Point.
Interest in attending the STEM camp was so high that El Maarij, the students’ private high school, required interested students to take an English test—those who placed highest were permitted to attend the camp. In addition to English, the students are fluent in Arabic, Morrocan Arabic, and French, though some students also speak other languages including Spanish and Russian.
Many students expressed an interested in attending college in America after graduation, and they cited Ivy Tech as topping the list of their possible schools.
“When these students think of ‘America,’ they will always think of ‘Fort Wayne.’ They will always have that connection,” said Mahamouda Salouhou, who helped facilitate the camp for the European Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship Education.
In a meeting with Ivy Tech Northeast employees who helped at the camp, Salouhou shared his happiness at the camp’s success and looked forward to future camps.
To accommodate the students and all their eduational and travel needs, more than 70 Ivy Tech Northeast employees helped, driving students to field trips, teaching lessons, and offering their homes for events such as a movie night and an evening of star gazing.
The students wrapped up their visit with a farewell reception Thursday evening and a trip to the season-opener Homestead High School football game.
Ivy Tech Community College is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. Ivy Tech serves nearly 200,000 students annually and has campuses throughout Indiana. It functions as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.