Migrant students at Ball State University for STEM camp

MUNCIE, Ind. - A few dozen grade school students are spending three days this week at Ball State, participating in some hands-on learning that gets them more interested in their education.

The Sunday through Tuesday event marks the first Migrant Education S.T.E.M. Technology Summit, which is a partnership between the Indiana Dept. of Education's Migrant Education Program and Ball State Teachers College's Educational Technology Program.

The camp brings in students from across Indiana between the grades of five and nine.

The IDOE defines a migrant student as, "any child ages 0-21 who moves across school district lines, either by themselves, or with a parent or guardian, for the purpose of seeking qualifying seasonal or temporary agricultural work."

"They’re following the crop," said Blake Everhart, the technology director of state's Migrant Education Program. "Their parents are in that industry. That’s why they’re here, harvest and planting season."

Jesus Urbina grew up in Honduras. His family now lives in Washington, Ind. A camp like this at Ball State can teach him and others how the technologies in the classroom can be used in the workplace.

"Everything is hands on," said Everhart. "Trying to leverage technology and how it would work in an industry. So, not just using it for fun, how can we use it in the future or in a job."

Urbina said he enjoys working on computers, cellphone and other electronic devices. He wants to go to college for computer programming or architecture.

However, migrant students often move due to their parents' work and can have their education interrupted.

"The biggest thing is how can we get them to graduate on time," Everhart said.

The summit engages students in problem-solving activities that develop communication, teamwork and leadership skills. Everhart said it could be the first time some of these students get access to a college campus and, possibly, thinking about an education after high school.

He added there's an estimated 2,000 migrant students in Indiana.