Local Students Attend Tapia Camps at Rice University

Above (L-R): Ken Oishi, Shawn Zhang, Alice Xu, Michelle Zeng and Claire Zeng at Tapia Camps at Rice University. Students not pictured who also attended camp include Tanner Smith, Anton Nguyen, Karen Cui, Alejandro Rodriguez and Pranav Menon.

This summer, ten students from Katy ISD, including from Obra D. Tompkins High School, Seven Lakes High School, McMeans Junior School and Cinco Ranch High School, attended Rice University’s prestigious camps hosted by The Tapia Center for Excellence and Equity.

Say STEM Camp, available to rising 8th-12th graders, features a week-long residential experience with a challenging STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum. Campers experiment with hands-on STEM projects, like building miniature wind turbines out of household items including glue, cardstock and popsicle sticks. At the same time, students enhance their communication skills by learning how to simplify complicated STEM ideas via graphic drawings and an end-of-camp oral presentation – all while experiencing life on a college campus.

“The mission of Say STEM Camp is to build a bright future for all eighth through twelfth graders who want to go into a STEM field.  Regardless of background, they should all have an equal playing field for being able to enter and succeed at the sciences,” said Dr. Paul Hand, director of the Say STEM Camp. “At this camp, our curriculum is split between STEM academia and communications exercises because both are critical to real-world success in STEM.”

This summer, more than 300 students and 50 educators from across Texas and beyond attended the camps.

Michelle Zeng and Alice Xu work together to solve a puzzle during a session at Say STEM Camp.

Above: Michelle Zeng (right) competes against a fellow camper with her wind turbine to see whose engineering design can make the most turns in front of a fan in 30 seconds.


About the Tapia Center

The Richard Tapia Center for Excellence and Equity at Rice University was founded in 1995 to promote greater participation of underrepresented minorities and women in the sciences and engineering and empower them to be future leaders. The Center’s founder, Dr. Richard Tapia, is internationally known for his research in the computational and mathematical sciences and is a national leader in education and outreach.

Since inception, the Tapia Center has provided direct training and guidance to more than 6,000 students and 2,500 teachers and educated nearly 250,000 students and professionals about the importance of diversity and representation.