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Rocket Camp is a real — and free — blast for Hillsborough County middle-schoolers

In this class, girls build the best rockets
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Posted at 5:11 AM, Jun 21, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Sydney Williams has NASA in her sights.

The soon-to-be-7th-grader is a star at Rocket Camp, a free and super-cool summer program for Hillsborough County Public Schools students.

"It's fun, the people here are great, and it's really hands-on," Sydney says about the camp at Tampa's Memorial Middle School that's allowing her to build, and blast-off, water-powered rockets.

Hillsborough is the only school district in the entire nation to get a recent $3 million STEM grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

As a result, the grant money will help pay for several free STEM camps this summer that teach rockets, robotics, and more.

STEM teacher Kelly Ramirez says rocket camps are a lot of fun, but the passion for science ignited here will pay dividends for these kids down the road.

"STEM incorporates science, technology, engineering and math, and those are very sought-after career fields," Ramirez says.

Teaching partner Amanda Valiente adds that it's especially exciting to see students like Sydney excel at STEM camp.

"One of the wonderful things about being an educator is seeing young girls coming to STEM camp and just rocking it!" Valiente says.