Area teens fundraise for STEAM Shack at Sunrise

Rose Weldon
Counselors assist campers at Sunrise Day Camp-Long Island's new STEAM Shack (photo courtesy of the Sunrise Association).

After a lengthy fundraising campaign by teens from Roslyn, Old Westbury, Port Washington and elsewhere on Long Island, Sunrise Day Camp-Long Island opened its Laura Rosenberg STEAM Shack last month.

Sunrise, a free summer camp for children with cancer and their siblings located in Wheatley Heights, partnered with the Woodbury-based Laura Rosenberg Foundation to build the center, which had over $300,000 of its funds raised by a group of teenage counselors known as the STEAM Team. 

Roslyn resident David Miller, a board member of the Sunrise Association that oversees the camp, was a supporter from the beginning, after his son Max, a counselor, suggested including an activity in the camp for kids who preferred computers.

From there, Max Miller created the “STEAM Team” (named for science, technology, engineering, arts and math) and led it in raising funds for equipment for the program.

In addition to Max, the STEAM Team includes Alexandra Carvajal of Port Washington, Alex Collins of Jericho, Sloane Levin of Melville, Jason Koty and Benny Mark of Old Westbury, and Sarah Faber, Justin Hertz, Maia Kirschner, Miles Miller, Justin Morgenstern and Ryan Rabinowitz of Roslyn.

The 12 teens created crowdfunding pages on the website GoFundMe, ran bake sales and even orchestrated a private art show in Glen Cove to earn the money. 

The money raised by the team paid for features in the center meant to teach basic principles of science, technology, engineering, arts or math to campers. A Gear Wall, a magnetic wall that shows how mechanical gears work with each other, was placed in one of the center’s rooms, and Dash robots, small programmable machines that respond to commands in a coding language for children, are available to teach the basics of coding. Twelve iPads were also purchased, to be paired with each of the 12 robots.

“We have 3-year-olds doing it and they love it,” Miller said. “For the past two years, we didn’t have kids younger than 4 in the STEAM activities, and now we have to practically fight them off because they all want to try the robots.”

The STEAM Shack also includes several new Acer laptops, on which older campers learn more advanced coding. Luke Boncic, 15, who has been attending the camp for two years, says the Shack has helped him develop his budding interest in computer hardware as well as software. 

“Because of the STEAM Shack, I’ve really found out how computers work,” Boncic said. “I’m even building my own operating system.”

When the camp’s summer schedule ends on Friday, Miller says, the robots and iPads will be boxed up by the STEAM Team and sent to another of its programs, Sunrise on Wheels, in which volunteers visit cancer-stricken children in hospitals, with games and toys towed in rainbow chests.

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Rose Weldon

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