Kids at math camp spend time outside, too.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) camps are not only great fun, they’re the preferred type of camp for some kids. In fact, in my family, they’re all the rage. But some people are under the impression that kids only attend math and science when their parents push them to do so.
Years ago, my older son suffered through a summer of sports camp. And I mean suffered. He overheats easily, so the long, hot days in the sun were unpleasant, and though he’s a decent athlete, he lacked the prowess of the more sports-minded boys. Plus, he attended a different school than most of the boys, so he was often picked last for teams. And because we don’t watch sports on TV, he didn’t have much to talk about with his fellow campers. I don’t think he knew who hit a grand slam in the recent game. I’m not sure he even knew what a grand slam was.
At science camp, on the other hand, he spent most of the day in air-conditioned comfort, stepping out onto the athletic field just long enough for the teacher to demonstrate the latest pyrotechnic experiment. That is, small, potentially harmful explosions. As for banter, well, the Edison vs. Tesla argument never got old.
As a mom, I didn’t eye STEM camps as a ticket to any Ivy League school or improved test scores. Rather, I saw them as a way for my son and his younger brother to enjoy learning about and experiencing chemistry, math, and physics in a fun setting without homework, tests, and grades.
How can your child get in on the fun?
Your local public school may offer summer enrichment courses on a range of STEM topics. Children in kindergarten on up can learn math tips and tricks and play with numbers as they play with friends. Or maybe they’ll learn about math through art projects involving tessellations, string art, or origami.
Your local high school may also have something to offer young kids. In my area, they offer low-cost courses for elementary students. Even better, they employ high school students as assistants, providing young campers with STEM role models. (Bonus: my son, now a mathlete, earned his first paycheck by helping teach computer programming.)
Community colleges, local universities, libraries and park districts as well as talent development centers or other programs for gifted and talented children provide summer STEM fun opportunities. Not sure if your child is gifted? Many programs are flexible, especially when serving young children. At that age, some program providers are simply looking for an eager, enthusiastic group of campers.
If your child would rather sweat it out over a challenging math problem than a game of kickball, find a the right summer camp and watch him bloom.