The camps, ranging from private half-day camps for younger
children to longer sleep-away camps for teenagers, cater to kids
who are passionate about STEM subjects (science, technology,
engineering and math) or who just love immersing themselves in
projects involving thinking creatively and problem-solving.
``We're definitely seeing a lot more summer programs that focus
on science, technology, engineering and math, and also programs
that combined those elements with art,” said Kathy Heraghty,
program director and founder of Destination Science, based in
Orange, California. The group, which began in California in
2000, now runs summer camps for children ages 5 to 11 in five
``The education system is slowly coming around to putting more
emphasis on the sciences, and parents are also beginning to
change some pretty old-fashioned ideas about summer camps and
also about science, which is about way more than data and Bunsen
burners,'' she said.
STEM-oriented summer camps often include more traditional summer
pursuits like swimming and crafts, but the focus is on the fun
of ``thinking like a scientist'' in more depth than is often
possible during the school year.
``We focus on things that are playful and fun and that kids can
connect to, like building a really cool car with a solar cell,''
For older kids looking for a sleep-away experience, options
include BEAM Camp, in Stafford, New Hampshire, which offers
three-and-a-half-week camps for kids ages 10 to 17.
``We're a camp about making things and bringing ideas to life,''
said co-founder Brian Cohen, who shuns the STEM label because,
he said, the emphasis should be on the human side of things and
``fashioning physical reality,'' not on abstract concepts.
``We give kids the experience of making a big idea happen on
their own. Last summer, the kids in one session built a 30-foot
kaleidoscope, and another session built a boat powered by a
human-size hamster wheel,'' he said.
In addition to building and problem-solving, campers swim daily
and spend time with chefs, artists, architects and engineers to
help broaden their ideas about creative career options. The
camps, open to boys and girls, have a hefty $5,200 price tag,
but Cohen said about 40 percent of campers receive partial or
STEM summer camps in the area include Michigan Science Center
(Detroit), Great Lakes Science Center’s Camp Curiosity
(Cleveland), Horizon Science Academy (Cleveland),
Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) (Cleveland),
Imagination Station (Toledo), and University of
Toledo’s Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design (Toledo).
ON THE INTERNET:
lists a wide range of summer science programs across the United
States, as does
KATHERINE ROTH, Associated Press, contributed.