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Camps for the kid who loves science, tech, engineering, math

For kids whose dream summer camp involves more coding than canoeing, more technology than tennis and more science than swimming, STEM summer camps—once considered a contradiction in terms—are popular and plentiful.


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 states.

``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,'' Heraghty said.

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 full scholarships.

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: www.ScienceBuddies.org lists a wide range of summer science programs across the United States, as does www.lmstemalliance.org .

KATHERINE ROTH, Associated Press, contributed.



Copyright © 1989 to 2021 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05/18/21 17:36:54 -0700.





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