- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) - Several groans were audible from the woods nearby Rainier Elementary School on a recent Thursday, followed by a few screams and fleeing students.

It was all part of the school’s weeklong survival camp, which merged science, technology, engineering, art and math concepts with survival skills and physical activity.

The theme: battling radioactive pirate zombies.

Theater students from Rainier High School masked their identities with thick paint and loose pirate costumes. The ruse, though scary, was meant to motivate the younger students to learn survival skills, while unknowingly absorbing the so-called STEAM concepts.

“If we say ‘come to a science and engineering camp,’ no one would come,” said Laurie Kash, the school district’s student services coordinator.

Part of the narrative involved the abduction and zombification of a student, Kylar. His peers were tasked with the job of finding him and bringing him back to life.

While treating the student, Kash asked the others to identify how to treat symptoms of shock. They identified how to check for a pulse and explained the importance of elevating his legs so blood can flow to the heart and brain.

“His face isn’t as pale and white,” observed 11-year-old Ashlynn Inman.

During the weeklong camp, students learned to purify pond water using a UV purification method. Andrew Perri, a health and physical education teacher, led them through the exercise, which involved using UV heat to cook out the contaminants.

“We wanted to do something that wasn’t dependent on them having chemicals on them,” Kash said of the exercise. The purpose was to simulate a realistic survival situation.

Students also learned to build a fire under the direction of Columbia River Fire and Rescue, construct a lean-to building and make dandelion-and-oregano lanyards to repel zombies.

The lanyard-making emphasized the artistic side of the camp, which Kash said she believes is as important as the math- and science-based concepts.

“It’s fun to have these different studies in humanities, and I think it makes it that much richer,” she said.

This is the second year the school has hosted such a camp, which is free to the students. Twenty-five elementary school students attended this year’s camp.

It is funded by the Physical Education Program and Career Technical Education grants. Last year’s theme centered on Sasquatch. Next year’s is still up for discussion.

“We try to make it have a fun, narrative piece,” Kash said.


Information from: The Daily News, https://www.tdn.com

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