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From August 16 to August 18 the summer programme of the first edition of the University Maker Camp took place. Over the course of three days, 19 students learned about various STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) topics under the guidance of a group of students and lecturers from Amsterdam University College (AUC). The aim of the programme is to introduce future first-generation students to the university, student life and what an interdisciplinary education can offer.

Introducing future first-generation students to STEAM subjects

The University Maker Camp is being organised by a group of lecturers and students from Amsterdam University College (AUC), in collaboration with the foundation Diversity Talks and Iris Weyer. The programme is meant to guide future first-generation students on their path to higher education, and perhaps to AUC itself.

First-generation students often have less access to the right tools to make decisions about their academic futures and do not get introduced to university life until they arrive at university. This means that they are less likely to be informed about or choose non-traditional academic/career paths, such as the arts or interdisciplinary education.

The University Maker Camp programme therefore wants to focus on providing these students with insight into university and student life, as well as interdisciplinary STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) education. Combining art and science is a core goal of the programme in which students are encouraged to approach certain scientific topics with a creative mentality.

Thank you guys for everything. It was an unforgettable experience! Respondent to survey on University Maker Camp

Summer kick-off with a three-day programme at AUC

The longer University Maker Camp programme started with a three-day ‘summer mini-camp’. The first day began with introductions, in which the students got to know each other and the team members they'll be working with.

Workshops on illusions, waves and patterns

They then participated in the first workshop titled 'Illusions', in which they learned about the spectrum of invisible light and became acquainted with heat and infrared light using unique thermal imaging cameras. Students were then encouraged to think of creative and artistic ways to incorporate themselves into the images. Their final projects were printed and showcased for the group. The day ended with a tour of the physics and chemistry labs of the Faculty of Science from the University of Amsterdam. 

The second day began with the second workshop, titled 'Waves', in which participants were presented with an exercise on the properties of waves, and later in the day, the students used Arduino models to make LED lights react to sound waves. In the afternoon, the students took a field trip to the Nxt Museum in which they were able to explore the topics covered in the programme - waves, movement and light in a way that challenged their perceptions and emphasised new ways of thinking.

"The group was really well organised and planned everything ahead of time. Plus, it was really fun and I got to see what college is like." Respondent to survey on University Maker Camp

The third day included two workshops that focused on fractals found in nature and bacteria in a workshop titled 'Patterns.' Students were presented with the task of creating their own fractals on Scratch, an easy-to-use coding language. During the second part, participants were presented with bacteria cultures that had grown from their samples. The day then concluded with a tour of the AUC student residences.

Next steps in autumn: group projects and presentations 

The University Maker Camp is off to a good start, with feedback from participants including: ‘I've learned quite a bit and made good friends!’ and ‘The camp was exactly like what I expected. Very educational and fun.’ The programme will now continue into autumn and end with another two-day event in October. In the meantime, there will be bi-weekly excursions on Saturdays similar in style to the summer camp. The participants will explore new aspects of student life, art and science in the form of excursions, workshops and fun activities.

The Saturdays will also be used for preparing for the final event in autumn which will see students creating plans for a "designathon" in October. This final event will feature exciting new ideas and proposals for how to solve real-life problems and will be the festive closing of the first University Maker Camp.

We are looking forward to the next chapter of the programme and new students are more than welcome to join! Interested students can contact the team through lela[at]diversitytalks.nl to arrange this.