A super sciencey summer
Area camps inspire kids to create, solve problems
Indu Holdsworth liked summer camp so much at Santa Fe School for the Arts and Sciences that she became a teacher’s helper two years ago, in the summer before she started seventh grade. Now the 15-year-old, who says she always considered becoming a biomedical engineer, is adding working with children to her career plans.
She says the work at camp “gives me something to do over the summer, and I really enjoy interacting with the small children.” Holdsworth relishes the opportunity to encourage children’s natural curiosity about the world, taking after a favorite teacher who did the same for her. “I always had a natural interest in science,” she says. “I had one teacher in third grade who was super-sciencey. She said, ‘Science is cool.’ She encouraged me.”
Perli Cunanan, executive director of the school, says that the summer camp’s big benefit is in preventing the loss of knowledge that often occurs during a three-month summer break when many children go without educational opportunities or intellectual stimulation. “We don’t teach science,” Cunanan says, “we teach kids to think of themselves as scientists.”
That same philosophy underlies Camp Invention. The summer enrichment program was launched in 1990 by the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is operated by Invent Now, a nonprofit that works in partnership with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Invent Now employs local teachers working with a national curriculum to design science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — projects for children entering first through sixth grades. There are 1,200 camps nationwide every year, including one Camp Invention scheduled for July 6-10 at St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe.
Annie Miller, communications coordinator for Camp Invention, says the camp emphasizes projects that directly involve children in invention and engineering.
“Illuminate” is the theme for this summer’s camp, with five projects designed to inspire exploration and promote problem solving. During camp, youngsters invent and design a marine exploration vehicle, create a three-dimensional prototype for a video game with components from nonfunctioning high-tech devices and design, build and race a kart rugged enough to withstand water and wet terrain.
“You get to see kids really embody their inventions,” Miller says. “It doesn’t feel like school. It’s learning disguised as fun.”
Camp Invention and SFSAS Summer Camp share the goals of teaching critical thinking skills. Both also work toward creating a comfort with science and math for their young participants, making it easier for them to consider careers in those fields.
The organizers of both programs also hope to show children the links between science, innovation, creativity, technology and engineering so they gain confidence in solving real-life problems.
Chintan Kess, summer camp director for SFSAS, says, “We teach to the whole child. We’re developmental. Our teachers are specialists in each age and know how to present to that age.”
Santa Fe School for the Arts and Sciences Summer Camp offers weeklong camps for children as young as three years old, and some of its camps are designed for youth age 13 and older. Weeklong camps run from June 8 through August 7 and most cost $220 per week. Scholarships are available. www.santafeschool.org or 505-438-8585.
Tuition for Camp Invention, July 6-10, is $220, with some online discounts available. www.campinvention.org or 800-968-4332.
Kids create their own Creeper masks and swords during Camp Minecraft at the Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences summer camp.
Devi, age 9, disassembles and examines electrical wiring during Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences Inventor’s Workshop summer camp.