A su­per sci­encey sum­mer

Area camps in­spire kids to cre­ate, solve prob­lems

Kids Summer - - Inside - By Sandy Nel­son

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.

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