The Benefits of Summer STEM Programs

stem programs

It’s that time of year again. The time when we’re thankful for cooler temperatures and vibrant autumn leaves. While you may be busy preparing for fall classroom activities, we’re here to remind you that it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s summer programs. Summer offers distinctive opportunities that are indispensable to an excellent education. According to RAND Education, “Research has shown that students’ skills and knowledge often deteriorate during the summer months. Instruction during the summer has the potential to stop these losses and propel students toward higher achievement.”[1]

With that in mind, we’ve pulled together the latest research on the benefits of a STEM or STEAM summer curriculum and its advantages for every grade level. Also, we’ve included three exemplary summer STEM programs with strong outcomes as well as strategies to overcome technology challenges. So grab that pumpkin spiced latte and get ready to make next summer count by stopping the “summer slide.”

STEM Learning in Out-of-School Programs Provides Unique Advantages

One of the most significant advantages of offering a STEM or STEAM curriculum in out-of-school settings is that it directly affects what’s possible inside classrooms.[2] A report by the National Research Council found evidence that STEM learning in out-of-school programs has been shown to:

  • Contribute to young people’s interest in and understanding of STEM
  • Connect young people to caring adults who serve as role models
  • Reduce the achievement gap between young people from low-income and high-income families[3]

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) sums up the benefits with this conclusion, “Summer offers a unique opportunity for students to engage in STEM learning in ways that mirror real-world needs, while also drawing on the practices that make these STEM learning resources & activities most successful.”[4]

Advantages at Every Grade Level

From little ones to teens, all grade levels can benefit from summer enrichment programs in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs highlights the advantages for kids of all ages. 

  • Elementary Students: Explore future careers, build self-confidence and get out of their comfort zones
  • Middle School Students: Ease the transition to high school, catch up on STEM subjects, career development
  • High School Students: Prepare for college, increase college admission chances, and improve social skills[5]
Three Creative Uses of Technology in Summer STEM Programs

Technology can strengthen the activities offered by summer programs. Check out these examples of schools that incorporate technology to facilitate a hands-on, engaging, and most of all, fun experience!

  1. An Out of This World Hands-On Experience
    The Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program is a five-week innovative program for middle school students. The curriculum is described as “truly out of this world” since it culminates in a tournament where students gather in teams to design code that to control a small satellite. “The best code is uploaded to the International Space Station where live astronauts judge a competition between the satellites programmed by students from around the country,” explains EdSource.[6]
  2. Journey through Mathematics
    In the summer following third grade, students lose 27% of their school-year grades in math. That number jumps to 50% by the summer after seventh grade.[7] To counteract the loss of math proficiency, schools across Connecticut participate in the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program (CPEP) Summer Math Gaming Challenge. “CPEP’s blended learning model integrates face-to-face teacher instruction with cutting-edge, games-based mathematics learning software to create an engaging, customized, and differentiated learning experience.” Challenges include creating a digitally animated ad using the Scratch programming language and applying principles of gravity, force, and structural integrity to create a package optimized for aerial drop-delivery.[8]
  3. Opening up Infinite Career Opportunities for Young Women
    Only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees vs. 17% of men.[9] Recently there has been an increase in initiatives and out-of-school programs aiming to close the gender gap and inspire more women to choose STEM pathways. One such program is the all-girls Forensic Science Camp at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. This one-week program caters to students who are interested in forensic science. “Students arrive at a staged crime scene and must gather and analyze evidence to find a suspect. Using biology, chemistry, mathematics and deductive reasoning, campers study fingerprints, footprints, fiber and hair samples, and other evidence.”[10]
Three Strategies to Overcome Technology Challenges

Introducing technology into school curriculum isn’t always easy. In a Research-to-Results brief on incorporating technology into out-of-school time programs, Child Trends identified three strategies to overcome challenges with integrating educational technology.

  1. Offer practical training and technical support on using technology, so staff members are equipped to integrate it into program activities
  2. Establish guidelines and role modeling for proper technology use
  3. Partner with schools and businesses to offset the costs of purchasing and maintaining technology[11]
Share Your STEM Stories

Does your school or district offer summer enrichment with a STEM/STEAM curriculum? We’d love to share your stories so that other imaginative educators can gain inspiration from your successes. Drop us a message on Facebook, tweet us, or connect on LinkedIn and let us know how you stop the summer slide.  



[1] Making Summer Count How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning – RAND Corporation

[2] Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School Settings – National Research Council

[3] Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM Programs in Out-of-School Settings – National Research Council

[4] STEM in the Summer: the Joy of Meaningful Learning – national summer learning associates

[5] Why You Should Consider a Stem Summer Camp – Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs

[6] Science gets hands on in summer STEM programs, but funding challenges remain – EdSource

[7] Summer Learning Loss: What We Know and What We’re Learning – nwea

[8] STEM in the Summer: the Joy of Meaningful Learning – national summer learning associates

[9] Only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees – Microsoft

[10] 8 STEM Summer Programs That Are Just for High School Girls – TeenLife

[11] Incorporating Technology into Out-of-School Time Programs: Benefits, Challenges, and Strategies – Child Trends

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The Faces Behind World-Class Customer Support at LocknCharge

Schools tell us we rock. Academies say we’re awesome. Teachers say we make a difference. Our reps have even been called lifesavers. One customer was so thrilled by their customer support experience, they shared a picture of their precious pup to express thanks and brighten our day.

So, what’s the secret behind our tech company’s wide-spread customer success? LocknCharge focuses on hiring extraordinary people who always strive to do what’s best for the customer.

Our customer support team continues to exemplify this magic formula for success. They’re our expert problem solvers, providing the right answers to your inquiries in 48 hours or less – sometimes before you even know what questions to ask. They’re passionate about our products and know them inside and out. They’ll conduct research, proactively inquire and follow up, making sure our customers are always satisfied. It’s the reason they receive countless thank you emails covered in exclamation points.

"Wow, what a wonderful experience! Thank you so much. Because you are so awesome, here is a picture of my puppy, Clementine. The world needs more pictures of Clementine. Sending Love and Light." -Rebecca
"I have recommended LocknCharge to several people now based on my experience with you. Thanks for the great support and really nice product."   -Matt Cramer
“Jason is awesome to work with and it is because we take good care of them that they continue to do business with us.” -Steve, Palo Verde School District
"I wanted to let you know I really appreciate how easy it is to work with you and your company.  I will certainly recommend LocknCharge to other districts going forth." -Happy Customer
"You guys are the best and that is why we are buying many more this summer! Thank you again!!" -Maria, Weatherford ISD

We know that being genuine, kind, courteous and caring goes a long way. When our customer service staff works hard and exceed expectations, customers tend to fall in love with our products and our staff. It’s no wonder our mobile technology company boasts a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 97 for its customer support, which is higher than world-renowned tech giants.

Jason Zelhofer - Customer Support Manager

Meet Jason

Jason Zelhofer, warranty and customer support manager, is working behind the scenes of this well-oiled customer support team. A top priority for Jason is making teachers’ lives easier, since he was raised by one. With a single-mom upbringing and as a father of three young boys, he just gets it. 

“I want teachers to be able to get home to their families quickly and not have to worry about tech issues in their classrooms,” he says.

Jason’s 15 years as a licensed electrician gave him the foundation he needed to build a strong support team at LocknCharge. From training apprentices and interacting with diverse clientele at hospitals, banks, government entities and schools, to managing two remote technical customer service associates and one on-site customer support specialist, he’s an expert at mentoring through example and talking customers through practically any scenario. From fulfilling a school’s request for an engineer’s CAD drawings due to new construction to ensuring a teacher doesn’t stress over a misplaced power cord, he wears many hats.  

“I love that we can be different,” Jason says. “We treat our accounts like family. We know them well, so they’ll ask us stuff like, ‘how are your kids doing?’”

Kevin Rezac - Technical Customer Svc & Warranty Assoc.

Meet Kevin

Kevin Rezac, nicknamed GOAT (Guru of all Things), is a techy at heart, but also a jack of all trades, having  worked in sales, management, trade shows, accounting, logistics, operations, marketing, and now customer support. Kevin makes it his priority to simplify all the ‘tech talk,’ making it easy for our customers to understand what they need and how to get it. For Kevin, issue resolution comes easily because it’s all about asking customers the right questions upfront.

Kevin’s home office in North Dakota is a playground for LocknCharge products. When he’s not answering emails, following up with customers, writing instruction manuals and cases for the warehouse, you can find Kevin tinkering with smart carts and other mobile technologies at home, learning the ins and outs of each gadget, understanding capabilities and limitations, disassembling and reassembling with curiosity and customers on his mind.

“We have our hands on our own products,” Kevin says.

“That way, we can visualize customer issues when speaking to them and come up with solutions on the fly,” Kevin says. Unlike many tech companies who outsource their customer support and follow a general protocol, we keep things in house.

“Finding solutions to other people’s problems gives me real satisfaction. Getting to the real root of the issue is the most challenging part, but it’s also the most rewarding. And in an industry where everything is quantified and analyzed, LocknCharge looks beyond statistics to define their employees’ success. We’re measured on making customers happy,” Kevin says. “Our company has an extreme amount of confidence in us.”

Chris Ledbetter - Technical Customer Svc & Warranty Assoc.

Meet Chris

Chris Ledbetter is a self-proclaimed jokester and the go-to geek for all things mechanical. Previously as his own boss, he’s constructed powerful PCs for gaming. Repaired hardware and installed software. Recovered crashed operating systems. Designed complex networks. And as loadmaster for the US AirForce, he’s collected numerous awards and honors, including a global war on terrorism service medal, completed 155 combat missions, flown 296 combat hours, calculated the center of gravity and executed air drops.

He’s also a self-admitted “tinkerer of electronics” who at a young age, made it a hobby of his to break open consoles and computers. While most kids were playing with GI Joes, Chris just wanted to go to battle with another mother board. His obsession with technological toys continued, and he made a freelance career out of building computers and teaching other how to do the same. When he joined LocknCharge, his first task was taking apart 6-foot tall FUYL Towers and diagnosing non-functioning ones. At one point, his family was living with four of them in their living room.

When he’s not dismembering towers, he’s traveling to accounts with screw driver and miscellaneous parts always on hand.

“LocknCharge gives us a lot of autonomy to always make it right for the customer,” Chris says.


Caite Leifer - Customer Support Specialist

Meet Caite

With a blend of commercial insurance and waitressing experience, customer support specialist, Caite Leifer, has the perfect background for the job. She’s had many customer-facing interactions. She’s also had to work with many rules and restrictions, so she understands how rewarding it is to give customers exactly what they need.

"While sometimes it’s about helping customers make the right choices, other times it’s about providing them with simple reassurance that we’re here and we’re going to take care of their needs," Caite says.

“Contacting customer care should be as painless as possible…and even enjoyable.”

Caite is the first voice a customer hears, answering or fielding all inbound customer calls, support emails and online inquiries. While a standard response time is within 48 hours, she makes it her personal goal to contact customers within a few hours of their request to give them peace of mind that LocknCharge has received and is actively working on their request.

The customer support team is empowered to do whatever it takes to make it easier on customers.

“When I’m able to send a replacement cart to a teacher before school is in session, I get to lighten their load a little.” Caite says. “And it brightens my day. I get to say, ‘Don’t worry about it.’”

Each of the team members work autonomously in their respective area of expertise, but also operate as a close-knit group of four, adjusting to varying workflows, checking in, collaborating, and backing each other up. As Caite is shipping out replacement carts, troubleshooting a lock if a combination is forgotten, or writing up cases, she’s also fielding more complex cases to her teammates, enlisting one of LocknCharge’s technical customer service associates to get the job done. 

“We’re all in this together,” Steve Ledbetter, Global Chief Operating Officer, says. “Our company has been successful because of our people who are able to keep up with the ever-changing industry. Flexibility, adaptability and camaraderie are what counts in the tech world. Our competitors can try to create similar products, but there’s one thing they can’t ever replicate, and that’s our people.”

Want to hear more about the LocknCharge customer experience?

Visit our testimonials page to hear real stories from real customers, and how LocknCharge was able to meet and exceed their expectations.

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Chill, Charge & Solve Healthcare’s Tech Woes

LocknCharge is a Proud Sponsor of HETT 2019

Technology and healthcare. It’s a relationship we should all be rooting for. From improved patient satisfaction to better data, reduced costs, increased efficiency and billing accuracy, the potential is vast, and fostering a digitally ready culture in the industry is critical. That’s why LocknCharge is proud to once again be a part of the UK’s leading healthcare technology event: HETT 2019, taking place on 1 - 2 October at ExCeL London.

The event brings together IT, clinical, operational and procurement professionals to network, learn and discuss the future of technology within the healthcare ecosystem. LocknCharge will be sponsoring the Chill ‘n Charge Lounge, a space to sit down and recharge – for attendees and their mobile devices. Here's a peek at last year’s event:

Beyond helping people kick back, relax and check email, we’ll be helping to solve the biggest tech and digital issues facing the UK healthcare sector. Sure, it’s a lofty goal for a two-day event, but we’re up for the challenge.

Think about this: 85% of organizations are currently in the research or pilot phase of a mobile device deployment. However, 73% of organizations fail to plan how they’ll centrally charge and secure those devices.1 This can be a very costly oversight.

Statistics show that 10% of devices break or go missing each year of a deployment,1 and that 41% of data breaches are actually caused by lost or stolen devices.2 Considering a centralized way to charge and secure devices not only streamlines workflows, it helps mitigate the risk of compromised data.

LocknCharge is committed to helping healthcare providers execute successful medical mobile device deployments. That commitment starts with our secure, multi device charging solutions, most of which are backed by a lifetime warranty, and it continues with our exceptional customer support team.

We believe it takes excellent products and people to make life easier for the healthcare industry. Come meet some of the team at our HETT charging station, #: E4. Register for free as a public sector professional.


Sources: 2

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Imaginative Educators Activate Change at ISTE19

Philadelphia, home to the historic Independence Hall and Liberty Bell, recently hosted the 2019 ISTE Conference & Expo. The LocknCharge team didn’t just attend ISTE19 to enjoy mouthwatering cheesesteaks while climbing the seventy-two Rocky Steps; we were lucky enough to host an interactive exhibit for the 16,000 attendees. Aptly named the “Chill & Charge Lounge,” our booth welcomed educational representatives to take a load off in cushy green chairs while charging their mobile devices in our products.

Don’t get us wrong, we love traveling around the world telling people about our awesome charging and transport stations. However, that’s not the biggest reason we attend industry trade events. Conferences and conventions like ISTE19 are where we gain inspiration from potential product users so that we can produce more innovative products. They’re also a place to interact with customers to better understand their pain points so we can go home and work tirelessly to make our products even better.

Doodling Bold Concepts for the Ideal Classroom

That’s why we asked the educators at ISTE19 to let their creative juices flow while charging their devices at our booth. Armed with colored pens and Big Ideas notepads, teachers doodled their bold concepts for how they would like to improve their classrooms.

Unsurprisingly, teachers illustrated some very imaginative designs such as giving students a place to “recharge” during the day while their tech recharges. One Missouri teacher envisioned a wall-mounted media center in a 5 x 5 grid for an elementary school class where display and organization are more of an issue than security. Another teacher reminded us that “What matters most is not what technology the little hands hold, but the little hands holding the technology.”

These drawings were submitted for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Perfect for making a dent in that back-to-school classroom wishlist. The winning submission was from a teacher in Modesto, California. His big idea included a locked cell charging tower tied to a behavioral management system like Classcraft, ClassDojo, or PBIS solution.

Check out some of our favorite Chill & Charge Big Ideas!

Today’s Ideas Shape Tomorrow’s Solutions

The entire LocknCharge staff, from the CEO to the events team, is devoted to listening to customer feedback. We understand that this is the best way to drive new product improvements, which makes life easier for our customers. At the BETT show in 2018, customers spoke with us about out how our Joey Cart could be enhanced. Based on these comments, this multi-device charging station was completely remodeled from the way the doors close to how the cart is cabled. Just as we do for every new product, before the new Joey Cart product design was finalized, we held advisory sessions inviting customers to offer their critiques. We don’t shy from negative feedback; we embrace it because we know it translates directly into incredible innovation for our products that ALL of our customers can utilize.

The Proof is in the Products

Events like ISTE19 aren’t the only way we capture ideas. In addition, we run surveys after purchase to ask each and every customer how we can improve our offering. If a person evaluates our product but does not select it, we inquire as to why our solution wasn’t a good fit.

We also partner with customers to create new products. For example, Denton ISD wanted a 15 unit wall charging station that could be mounted to the wall to reduce the amount of floor space used in a classroom. Because LocknCharge only offered a 10 unit station, we added the Carrier 15 to our product line to help Denton ISD and other schools in the same situation. Our long-time customer and partner Putnam City Schools had an issue many schools encounter—reduced space in the classroom. They submitted their idea for a perfect product on the back of a napkin! Based on their suggestion, LocknCharge now proudly sells an entire line of Putnam products, including the Putnam 16, Putnam 8 and Putnam 18-C Base.

Read more about how our solutions are shaped by listening.

Send us your Napkins

What do you adore about our products? How do you think they could be improved? Whether you submit a doodle at our next trade show, fill out a survey, or send us your ideal solution on a napkin, we can’t wait to hear from you. The next best LocknCharge solution is waiting for your big idea!

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Supporting Madison’s Innovation, It’s a Win-Win

It’s Forward Fest time, and LocknCharge is ready! We’re returning to the scene of our win on Tuesday, Aug. 27 at the Overture Center – this year as a Hub sponsor of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce neXXpo event.

Now, before we go Forward, let’s back up. Last year LocknCharge and our sister brand, TechDen™ competed at neXXpo. Through two rounds and a pool of 30+ other amazing companies we prevailed, earning the title of Madison’s Most Innovative Company. Pretty cool, right? We think so. In fact, to quote our own words, “We are humbled by this award and will continue to work hard to drive innovation into Madison and around the world.”

We’re holding ourselves to that. Not just through our own work, but in our support of other local innovators, too. It’s important to us to promote and engage with fellow businesses that are making a difference in our community. Which brings us back to The Forward Festival.

Now in its 10th year, Forward Fest is an 8-day celebration made up of more than 40 events and 5,000 attendees. The whole idea is to bring tech and startup communities together to learn, share, have fun and promote Madison and the Midwest as a leading region in innovation and entrepreneurship.

neXXpo is one of those events. Attendees walk through seven “innovation hubs” made up of five creative, cutting-edge businesses competing for their votes. Seven finalists are selected to present at the Chamber’s nex7 Stage event later in the year, where one will earn the Most Innovative Company award.

Here’s a sneak peek at the exhibitors in our Hub:

Imbed Biosciences: a medical device company emerging as a leader in the development of advanced therapies for the treatment of burns, chronic ulcers, gastro-intestinal defects, and soft-tissue repair.
Pasture and Plenty: a meal kit service and farm-to-table deli and catering company committed to making high quality, all natural, plant-based or pasture-raised foods.

PegEx: the only platform to eliminate the complex risk of hazardous waste removal and offer a turnkey solution to generators, haulers and disposal sites.

Trinity GunShot Alarm Systems LLC: designer of proprietary gunshot-detection systems with multiple applications, including schools, municipal buildings, business, warehouses, medical facilities, houses of worship, and more.
Ian’s Pizza: a Madison pizza institution since 2001. Serving up unique pizza by the slice is just the beginning. One of the company’s main goals was to create an environment where his workers could become business owners. One of the proudest achievements to date is the work they have done to make Ian’s United an environmentally friendly entity.

We’re really looking Forward to it. Hope to see you there.

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