Upstream Ultra: Robotics, STEAM, Learning


Concentrating on medical technology, the February 5-9, 2018, KPBSD Upstream Ultra Academy brought together thirty-six middle school students for a week at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska. At Upstream Ultra, students learned about robotic exoskeletons and how they may be able to help those who have had strokes or spinal cord injuries be able to walk. Students created an elbow joint that could bend a person’s arm via a coded computer program and an exoskeleton kit, the first of its kind for classroom use.


Throughout the week students were on the go! Some of the week learning included:

  • Ultra students learned about technology in physical therapy from Dr. Todd Pollock and Mrs. Pollock, RN, from Freedom Physical Therapy
  • Field trips to the Radiology Lab at Central Peninsula General Hospital and Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center to learn about the latest technology to fight cancer
  • State Trooper David Lorring taught about crime scene investigation and forensics, and let students leave and lift fingerprints
  • Dr. Nels Anderson came over to instruct campers on how to make snow caves and survive in the winter wilderness


This year Ultra coincided with the Winter Olympics, so students participated in the Upstream Olympics, complete with a medal count and medals.All 36 KPBSD students participating in Upstream Ultra already participated in the drone academy and were chosen through an application process. “Ultra” is a level two camp in the KPSBD Upstream Academy Program. The focus during level one Upstream Middle School Academy is drone technology.


To learn more about the KPBSD Upstream Ultra, or Upstream Middle School Academy, visit our Facebook page at: Thank you to Rachel Pioch for contributing this story!