Summer Camps

Summer, it’s over already??

summer_camps.jpg

The leaves are changing colors, the weather is getting cooler which means Fall is just around the corner, But here at ExplorationWorks, summer is always on our mind!

This summer was one for the books here at your favorite science center. We had more camps than ever, we had more kids than ever and we had more fun than ever! This year we offered 61 camps for kids 4 years-old all the way to 15! With such a wide array of topics, everyone could find something they were interested in. Some of my favorites this summer were our new Superhero Science and Force Academy camps, along with our old favorites, Potions and Culinary Camp. We played with fireworks, (How do we get those colors in the sky?), built crazy things out of cardboard and duct tape, programmed robots, video games and microcomputers, and exploded a few watermelons (I think my total for the summer was 6!).

summer_camps2.jpg

I think my favorite thing about our summers here at ExplorationWorks is getting to see students really find their niche and truly blossom. Sometimes it’s the kid that loves to play video games so her parents signed her up for a tech camp where she learned that not only could she play video games, but she could create them too! Or maybe it’s the little guy who is always making concoctions in the kitchen so his parents signed him up for a chemistry camp so he could learn why those things were bubbling when they were mixed together and how to design a new experiment to test all his wonderfully creative ideas. Our hope is always that those students come away from our summer camps with a renewed sense of curiosity, a greater understanding of the world around us, a sense of belonging, and a sense of being understood and celebrated for who they are and what they love.

As I reflect on our busiest summer ever, I can’t help but think about what camps I would have wanted to sign up for as a 9 year-old girl. Would I have wanted to be a Tech Master or a 3D printing guru? Or would I have wanted to play with robots? Maybe I would have signed up for all of our chemistry and engineering camps, I’ve always loved to make a mess! (Just ask my Mom…) But no matter what 9 year-old Sara would have wanted to do, nearing-thirty Sara is already thinking ahead to next summer and remembering what she would have wanted to do as a budding young scientist, and making it bigger and better and brighter for all of the future scientists in Helena!

Awakening Your Inner Scientist

By: Lauren Rivers, Education Director

ExWorks Education Director, Lauren Rivers, with her brothers Joseph and Nicholas

ExWorks Education Director, Lauren Rivers, with her brothers Joseph and Nicholas

When I was six, my parents loaded my brothers and me into the family van and drove from Ohio to Maine for summer vacation. We kids were enrolled in something called "Science Camp", which sounded suspiciously like code for "Keep-the-kids-busy-Camp". We were pretty sure our parents were dumping us with college students posing as science teachers, while they escaped to bike the Maine coast.

When my parents returned to retrieve us that first day, they found a wide-eyed girl with a new zeal for investigating under rocks, mixing gooey concoctions and asking endless questions. Turns out, "Science Camp" is actually code for "Mind-blowing-skill-building-thought-provoking-crazy-fun". I couldn't wait to return the next day to find out what experiments awaited my newly awoken scientist.

Since then, I've always tried to approach learning as something that should be fun - not forced. When life brought me to ExplorationWorks, I felt transported to that long-ago summer, flipping rocks with magnifying lens in hand. Here was a place that understood kids' need to investigate, to experiment, to poke and prod and question. Here was a place where I could return the gift I received as a bored, homesick little girl. 

With every summer science camp I teach, I ask myself, "How would six-year-old me want to learn about this?" The results usually look a lot like this...

For more information on ExplorationWorks Summer Camps, visit www.explorationworks.org/summer-camps.