The year 2020 has certainly been anything but typical when it comes to children’s learning. With schools closing early in the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a slow and troubled start to online learning in Fairfax County, and instructional plans for the fall (and maybe all of the 2020-2021 academic year) still undetermined, parents are looking for ways to supplement their children’s learning however they can. Those with elementary school-aged kids now have a good resource: the Children’s Science Center is offering summer camps!
As it did in the spring, the Children’s Science Center Lab is now offering weekly virtual camps for children in rising grades 2-6. These camps are designed to keep kids learning and stay engaged with fun but valuable activities that focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The camps, designed to give children hands-on, easy-to-follow projects, provide instruction in important topics and their real-world applications. STEM Virtual Camps are half-day adventures with expert educators who facilitate hands-on activities, self directed learning, scientific explorations, and group discussions. Camps take place through August 21, 2020.
Parents who are concerned about too much screen time need not worry, though: While presentations and discussions take place virtually, the “hands-on” experiments truly are tactile, hands-on projects. Each registration includes a kit full of supplies for five experiments or activities each week (one for each day). These materials come in a Children’s Science Center drawstring bag and are available for curbside pick-up, so you still can practice our temporary social distancing guidelines.
The Children’s Science Center also is ensuring that even though the camps are hosted online, the groups are a regular size. Camps are limited to 30 campers per session, with two STEM educators each time. The cost is $175 for the week, and for parents of multiple children, here is a great deal: additional activity kits are just $25 for siblings sharing a screen.
The camp’s many fun themes promote exploration, creativity, and inspiration. Topics rotate each week and are: Science Magic, Under the Sea, Inventor’s Workshop, Robotics, 3D Printing Design, Escape the Lab, Spy Camp, and Space Out!
Each half-day of virtual camp includes:
1 hour Zoom Meeting with a lesson or activity, animal encounters, or science demonstrations
1 hour Daily Challenge time and Open Zoom for assistance, if needed
1.5 hour Zoom Meeting to present daily challenge, follow-up activities and lessons
The daily STEM challenges encourage critical thinking, creative problem solving, and child-led exploration. These challenges can be completed in under an hour and with limited parental supervision, and all the camp provides the materials you need for each week. Morning sessions are 9 am to 12:30 pm, and afternoon sessions are 1-4 pm. No two sessions are repeated in one week, so parents who want to sign up for both morning and afternoon half-day camps can do so to make a full-day camp experience for their kids, with a little break for lunch.
Campers just need a device with video and internet access (such as a tablet, laptop, or computer) and a pencil and paper; a printer to print the online informational packets is helpful. For all of the projects kids will work on you will just use household items. To get a taste of Children’s Science Center programs, check out their YouTube channel for DIY experiments, book readings, animal keeper talks, and more.
Photo provided by Children’s Science Center and used with permission