DONALDSONVILLE — Cordell Saunders, 8, sat, notebook in hand, thinking about his plan to build a small boat that would float.

Cordell and 13 other campers were given blocks of wood, foam pool floats, pencils, straws, aluminium foil, balloons, aluminium pans and duct tape to build their crafts.

The campers were attending the Community Sisterhood's Thanksgiving week STEM Camp at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Donaldsonville.

Cordell wanted to use the wooden blocks as the base of his structure, but the other boys at his table preferred to use the foam pool floats.

For camp director Rochelle Darville, the three-day camp is a way to teach the students how to work out problems and understand they could have a future in science-related careers.

The students had to consider the properties of density when picking their boat materials.

The materials used were paid for with a grant from Monsanto. Darville said the grant was designed to pay for mobile camps to teach children in small, rural communities about science, technology, engineering and math. A summer camp was held in Geismar, and another camp will be during Mardi Gras break in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Jackie Darville, Rochelle's mother, said the Community Sisterhood does more than hold camps for children. The group, formed in 2007, is designed to enrich the lives of residents in the River Parishes, she said.

Jackie Darville, the president of the small group, said her group wants to help people of all ages "turn those light bulbs on so they can be involved in today's community."

The Community Sisterhood has held health fairs, cancer awareness programs and adopted families in need. 

"We want people to be keepers of their own destiny," Jackie Darville said, adding that her group provides the tools and resources needed to define barriers and "work to take down those barriers to progress."

Rochelle Darville, a Community Sisterhood member since its inception and a science teacher in St. John the Baptist Parish who lives in Gonzales, said she enjoys teaching science concepts to the students. She hopes they will start thinking more about science after the camp.

"You can tell when they get it," she said. "You can see it on their face."

After the children built their boats, they moved on to another project on density. They had to determine the density of liquid in different small tubes on their tables.

Cordell and camper Marishell Ealem, 12, shook the bottles as they tried to figure out the density of the liquid.

They recorded their findings in journals provided by the grant.

The organizers said they hope to hold more programs in the Donaldsonville area.

The camp was held Nov. 20-22.