Students drone and buzz during Upstream Academy

With the State Troopers

STEM Camp in Kenai
One nonstop week, 34 KPBSD students, community volunteers and instructors make a definite buzz in Upstream Academy, a STEM camp for Title VI middle school students! May 29 – June 3, 2017, students from throughout the KPBSD lived at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska, to take part in the weeklong overnight camp which emphasized up and coming drone technology. Title VI funding made the camp possible, free of charge to students, with each being able to take home their own Parrot Mambo mini drone.

Design and build
Engineers from Homer Electric Association, Tesoro, and Conoco Phillips volunteered their time to help students learn to fly and code their drones through an obstacle course designed to simulate medical aid drops in needed areas.

2017 Upstream Academy

Drones in flight

In addition to learning about and working with drones, the students took part in field trips to the Kenai Peninsula College, where they learned about the paramedics and process technology fields.

Paramedic School

Students were able to learn about their heritages through visits to the K’beq Cultural Center, and the Dena’ina Wellness Center, plus participation in a talking circle led by Dena’ina staff.

K'Beq Heritage Site Drumming

Technology and public safety
Alaska State Troopers were on site with their SWAT team robot and Bear Cat, where students learned about how technology can be used to keep Troopers and civilians safe in difficult situations.

Future State Trooper Nash

Exploration and connection
Additional activities included a field trip to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, a Challenger Center Mission to Mars, a community service project with the City of Kenai, and recreation times at Jumpin’ Junction, Mountain View Elementary gym and playground, and the Kenai Central High School pool.


The week-long camp ended after a family BBQ at Spirit Lake on June 3, 2017, where campers said goodbye to newly made friends and asked camp staff if they could come back next year! Plans are in the works for future Upstream Academy camps.

Story contributed by Rachel R. Pioch, KPBSD Migrant Recruiter, Skyview Middle School, Title VI Tutor, Native Youth Leaders Advisor

Group Photo

Connect on Facebook: KPBSD Native Education Program


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