The popular Camp Kilowatt is going on the road this summer, with similar efforts being offered at four public schools in the county.

The annual event for middle and high schoolers, held on the Wayne Community College campus, is in its ninth year. Funding for that camp has historically been provided by Duke Energy Foundation, to the Foundation of WCC.

Camp Kilowatt allows students to explore learning opportunities in the STEM areas. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Duke Energy made more than 70 donations to education and workforce training initiatives across the state this year, amounting to over $2.7 million in the areas of STEM, childhood reading proficiency and workforce development.

A $25,000 grant from Duke affords additional camps to be held around the county over the next few weeks.

"Duke Energy is thrilled to continue its support of Wayne Community College and expand Camp Kilowatt to more students," said Millie Chalk, community relations manager for Duke Energy. "Smart investments in students and STEM initiatives strengthen the pipeline of highly-skilled workers who will lead us to a smarter energy future in North Carolina."

Wayne County Public Schools will play host at four of its school starting this week, with students participating in solar and electronics projects like solar bags and solar cars, wind turbines, secret alarms, robots and rockets.

The first camp, which started Monday, has been at Spring Creek Middle School.

Grantham Middle School will host the camp July 10-13, followed by events at Carver Heights Elementary and Brogden Middle schools the week of July 24-27.

An estimated 150 students will be able to participate in the four-day camps at no charge, thanks to the grant, which pays for supplies, T-shirts and two teachers plus an instructor from WCC to run the sessions.

The traditional Camp Kilowatt held at WCC will still take place, the week of July 10-13. This year's event, attended by approximately 50 middle and high school students, will explore engineering principles and programs to create a model bridge and a rocket.

Camp coordinator Steven Reese, an engineering and manufacturing instructor at WCC, said the idea from the outset had been to make the program more available to the community at large.

"This year we are able to implement it, thanks to the grant," he said.

The popularity of the program, and a gauge of its success, he said, is reflected in the number of former students who have returned as volunteers in subsequent years.