Posted by Paige Barnes (Director of Education, CEEF)
As a mother of young boys, I am all-too-familiar with the costs associated with summer day camps. If you’re looking for a camp that better suits your budget, your tastes, or even your schedule, you could try starting your own Summer STEM camp.
Camps don’t have to be formal, but they do have to be structured; boredom = chaos with kids. This mom has some great ideas on how to get one going. Plan activities that are supervised but still allow some freedom to explore and discover (this certainly depends on the age also).
You can find all kinds of ideas here for STEM activities to do over the summer, including some fine arts activities (music, art, and cooking) that you may not have considered.
If you’re still thinking it sounds too hard, here are some topics or themes for STEM camps…
STEM of Sports
Highlight a different sport each day (or even each half day if your camp is a full day long), and don’t limit yourself to footballs and baseballs; remember you can include billiards (angles), mini golf (have them build their own holes), ice skating (friction), statistics of sports (connect it to trading cards), and more. The possibilities are endless, and there are ideas all over Pinterest.
Fairy Tale STEM
Choose a fairy tale or other children’s story; read it aloud and have kids identify the problem or challenge. Then allow them time to design and build a contraption to help solve the problem. Here’s an example: Read (or sing) Humpty Dumpty and identify that the challenge is to keep Humpty from breaking when he falls off the wall. Then challenge them to build something out of recycled materials (whatever you have around) to keep him from cracking. At the end, test each design by dropping the egg using whatever method they have chosen to protect it.
Don’t be scared of coding! There are so many ways you can do this, even if you don’t know the first thing about computers or coding. There are websites, apps, and games that teach coding, and there are also plenty of lessons that teach coding “unplugged”. This New Zealand site is one of my favorites for unplugged lessons.