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A vast educational undertaking requires partners you can trust

Spring Education Group’s summer camps make heavy use of Pitsco STEM PBL Units

Published November 2, 2021

turn•key: adjective; of or involving the provision of a complete product or service that is ready for immediate use

SARATOGA, CA – Not long ago, in his role at Spring Education Group (SEG), Senior Director of Camp and Ancillary Programs (now Vice President) Nathan Horton was tasked with planning, scouting, and assembling the suite of 2021 summer camp curriculum and activity offerings that SEG would make available to the private school institutions in its network. A fun prospect – but not one that Horton could take lightly.

“Summer vacation is the longest vacation kids have each year, and they want to enjoy every moment of the time,” said Horton, who now serves as SEG vice president. “Our program encourages campers to challenge themselves through hands-on, multisensory projects, activities where kids can enjoy new things and experience fun activities each and every day.”

But student experience and lofty educational ambitions were not the only considerations lending his curriculum choices gravity. With approximately 200 schools in 19 states spanning early childhood education and K-12, the diversity of needs that must be met is a bit staggering.

And, for summer 2021, the timetables were tight – teachers had only three days between the last day of school and the first day of summer school. That didn’t leave a lot of time for training, setup, and troubleshooting. Not to mention that all of the puzzle pieces had to be brought together in a time of widespread supply chain issues.

There are many quality curriculum offerings in the education marketplace, but not every content provider has the industry experience and passion for customer support to meet these demands.


When the dust settled, 15 schools in the SEG network had implemented STEM PBL Units from Pitsco Education. Built to meet the PBLWorks Gold Standard, these challenge-based units inspire creativity, critical thinking, and social engagement among students. At its core, every STEM PBL Unit is built around a hands-on activity such as air-powered racing, balsa bridge engineering, or robot design and construction.

“What I can say about PBL units is that they are truly turnkey,” said Horton. “We are constantly looking for a bundle package that has curriculum, training, all the supplies, and the students get unique experiences. And that is truly what the Pitsco kits deliver.”

SEG’s typical practice is to have summer school curriculum and activity materials in the hands of teachers no later than March. This gives them a chance to review it before official training begins. Widespread shortages did complicate matters overall this year, but Horton reported a positive experience with Pitsco’s timeliness and commitment to working through any challenges.

“Pitsco did a great job of working with us to get the programs in a timely manner.”


The behind-the-scenes logistics don’t count for much if the camp experience doesn’t shine.

“We truly want to be that summer camp, that destination of choice within our community. And the Pitsco kits really gave us that consistency and quality of programming.” Whether students were firing rockets, flying drones, or working with straw structures, SEG’s emphasis is on delivering educational thrills and creating powerful memories.

Pitsco also provided marketing materials to educate parents about what their children will experience in the STEM PBL Units. This gives parents peace of mind and is a time-saver for teachers as well. But, the most compelling publicity for parents came after their children were already enrolled and participating in the camp courses. “We get a lot of comments on the quality of what students create and bring home,” said Horton.

The fact that so many of the STEM PBL Units include a take-home piece is actually a huge selling point for SEG. At home with parents, the completed hands-on projects can lead to meaningful discussions with parents that keep the learning going. And, like a trophy won in a sports competition, a completed project is a point of pride for kids and preserves the experience.

Outcomes like these assure the community of SEG’s care and commitment, not to mention keeping interest in its summer camps high for next year.

“With Pitsco, we could walk the talk because we knew we had a quality program.”


Spring Education Group’s summer enrichment program made available to students a broad range of activities from sports to academics to performing arts. Its STEM offering was largely built around Pitsco STEM PBL Units. The units were flexible in implementation, so teachers could adjust times as needed to match class schedules.

Check out this list of awesome STEM electives SEG offered to students:

  • Pitsco Fold-N-Roll Racers and Air-Powered Bottle Racers
  • Pitsco Air-Powered Rocketry and Water-Powered Rocketry
  • Pitsco TETRIX® PRIME Robotics
  • Pitsco Straw Structures, Large Structures, and Balsa Bridge Building packages
  • Pitsco Tello EDU Drone and Drone Zone

And of course, the value of the PBL STEM Units is not limited to summer school. After replenishing consumables, the units make a great addition to courses in the regular school year as well!

“Science should be for real. We should not be reading about it. We should be doing it. Expeditions have very much that same philosophy. It is the doing of it which grounds the theoretical information that you’re teaching.”

– Dr. Tammy Scot, teacher, Arapahoe Charter School, Arapahoe, North Carolina

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