Researchers from Vanderbilt are in town teaching young kids how to model traffic and prevent rush-hour jams.

The week-long camp at Chattanooga State is a first of its kind, and they're testing it out on local kids who aren't even in high school.

"We're simulating different ways to prevent traffic at an intersection," said Diego Lourenco.

Twelve-year-old Diego Lourenco likes the idea of being an engineer one day.

"It's good to prepare and I'm very interested in this so I can prepare for the future," he said.

First, Diego and eight others are learning to model and simulate cars and drivers in traffic including intersections, stoplights and speed limits. And later in the week, the kids will put to work an advanced simulation of Chattanooga traffic to prevent traffic jams.

Two Vanderbilt researchers are in town teaching this traffic simulation course. They say it's an important week to hook these kids on a STEM education: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

"The fundamentals are built at a very young age," said Shashank Shekhar. "Making the education system more interesting for the high school and middle school students."

With the help of local sponsorships, Vanderbilt is testing this camp for free on its youngest crowd yet.

"Their suggestions can be used to be put into real traffic if that really helps reduce the traffic waiting time," said Liyan Hou.

Hou and Shekhar hope the five day camp inspires kids like Diego to pursue a STEM education.

"What I do now with all the things I do to help prevent traffic on the simulator will help me a lot in the future so I can figure out different ways to do things," Lourenco said.

Camp coordinators expect a lot of these kids to apply to the local STEM high school on Chattanooga State's campus.