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An Interview with Program Director and MacInspires Founder, Travis Sluss

From June 17th through August 16th, Future Stars will once again be partnering with MacInspires, a groundbreaking STEAM Education program for kids aged 7-16.

The STEAM Program at SUNY Purchase will be directed by Travis Sluss, a Future Stars alumni and the founder of MacInspires. We spoke with Travis about his history with Future Stars and his approach to STEAM education. His answers are enlightening and thoughtful and will help you understand the STEAM program while getting to know Travis.

Why STEAM?

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Travis Sluss poses with a huge 3D printed gameboy

We picked Travis’s brain about his motivation for creating MacInspires and why he’s chosen to focus on STEAM education. Technology has always been a passion of Travis’s, but he was frustrated with the lack of opportunities for kids to pursue this interest. That’s why he founded MacInspires.

Says Travis, “Throughout my life, technology and STEAM in particular have always been my passion. As a youth, it was a struggle to find places and opportunities to nurture these passions and that was a major motivating factor in driving me to open and create MacInspires.”

Travis’s vision has changed and grown over time, enabling him to watch many aspiring young people achieve a variety of different things along the way. This has been personally inspiring to him.

“As passionate makers at MacInspires, we are always learning and tinkering ourselves, which keeps all of our staff inspired,” Travis explains. “In fact, this year we are lucky enough to have another former camper and Purchase student Josh Arbo, returning to our staff!  (He will be featured here in a few weeks).

Travis’s history with Future Stars

As mentioned above, Travis attended Future Stars’ as a camper in the early 90’s. We were curious to know what he remembered about his experience here, particularly since Future Stars didn’t offer STEM or STEAM programs when he attended camp.

Says Travis, “I remember attending Future Stars as a camper when it was at Manhattanville. Back then, STEM and STEAM camps did not exist, but I remember having a great time with my fellow campers. Future Stars was a place with a lot of fond memories.”

We asked Travis to elaborate on how he reconnected with Future Stars, including how his relationship with STEAM and Future Stars evolved into the collaborative program we offer today.

Travis said, “MacInspires has been working with Future Stars for over four years and each year our community of campers and offerings grow, which we are really proud of.

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STEAM Camper with a camper-built Raspberry Pi Retro Arcade

“First and foremost, we want our campers to have fun.  We also want them to learn new knowledge and skills, gaining confidence and growing in the process. We often find that as our campers explore new ideas or learn more about their existing passions, they get inspired and those “aha” moments often inspire us as well, changing our vision of what’s possible.”

The Future Stars’ STEAM experience

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Future Stars often attracts legacy campers and former connections who are inspired to work with us to offer an ever-growing catalog of programs. We asked Travis to share any thoughts he had about his experience as a former camper-turned-instructor for the STEAM program.

“Every child at Future Stars has the opportunity to truly be a star,” Travis explains. “At MacInspires, we are honored to be a part of that process. The focus on all different kinds of activities while providing a fun and nurturing environment sets Future Stars apart from other camps in the area.  As mentioned, I have fond memories of the traditional camp experience at Future Stars. It’s awesome to pass that experience on to other campers.”

Future Stars STEAM Education at SUNY Purchase

The STEAM Education program at SUNY Purchase runs from June 17th through August 16th. Camps are broken up into themes and by age group. Topics range from Coding & Game Design to Robotics to Woodshop and Wearable Fashion & Technology (and much more!) You can review details on all STEAM themes as well as a schedule from a typical day (all camps include a recreational swim period, lunch, field play, and daily orientation).

Says Travis, “We want our STEAM campers to get inspired by the projects and passions they explore at camp and the way our instructors excite them about new ideas and learning.” As with most great teachers, Travis has a favorite quote, something he lives by and hopes for all who work at or attend Futures Stars camps.

“Think Different,” says Travis, “STEAM is all about creative problem solving. Thinking Different leads to amazing work that’s able to make positive change in our world.”

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For more information about the variety of STEAM programs at Purchase, or to enroll, visit our STEAM page today.

Image Credit:  Travis Sluss

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