The 20 Coolest STEM Summer Camps

STEM education doesn’t have to end just because the school year is over. Kids from grade school to high school can embrace their love of all things science and technology through a wide range of summer camps located all over the United States. These camps offer not only opportunities for learning, but also for building relationships with kids who share similar interests, getting creative, and giving mom and dad a break from trying to keep them busy during the dog days of summer. From camps that inspire future astronauts to those that let kids get their geek on at MIT, we’ve collected just a few of the coolest summer camps for STEM-loving students all across America here. Read on to find the perfect summer learning opportunity for your future scientist or engineer.

  1. Space Camp:

    Few STEM summer camps, or few summer camps in general, hold the cachet that Space Camp does. Established in 1982, this Huntsville, Ala., camp has been teaching kids about the joys of space exploration for almost three decades. Kids (and adults) can enjoy space simulations, engineering activities, and leadership activities while in residence at the camp, which lasts anywhere from three to six days. Currently, students can choose from one of three tracks to focus their activities, either space, aviation, or robotics, helping each attendee get the experience of his or her dreams.

  2. Discovery Camp:

    Discovery Camp is run by the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., and may be the perfect match for kids who want to blend history and STEM into one exciting experience. Programs at the camp can last for weeks or just for the day, and allow students to explore the technologies pioneered by some of our nation’s greatest inventors while engaging in hands-on activities that ask them to experiment and engineer on their own.

  3. ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp:

    One of the best things about this summer camp is that it doesn’t cost a thing to attend, as long as you apply and are accepted, as it is funded through NASA and ExxonMobil. The camp aims to promote math, science, and technology education, and the result is a fun-filled adventure for kids with loads of hands-on experiments, field trips, and interactions with real-life scientists that show kids what working in STEM fields is really like. This camp is offered in locations nationwide, including in Colorado, Wyoming, Missouri, and Arkansas.

  4. National Computer Camps:

    One of the longest-running camps on this list (it was founded in 1977 when computers were a much rarer sight), National Computer Camps give tech-driven kids a chance to learn some serious skills. Week-long courses focus on topics like computer animation, digital video production, and programming, and students can even work towards getting certification in a variety of useful programming languages.

  5. New York Film Academy Summer Camps:

    We tend to think of film as being a liberal art, but these days few films are made without the aid of some serious technology. The camps offered by the NYFA embrace that, and offer a wide range of multi-week programs that cover topics like 3D animation, digital photography, and video game design. Older students will appreciate a chance to go abroad, with camps in destinations like Paris, Florence, Australia, and Switzerland, though there are multiple locations closer to home as well.

  6. RoboTech Summer Camp:

    Held at Rivier College, this summer camp offers some seriously cool week-long courses. This year’s batch include those in Mario-style game design, XBox game design, smartphone game creation, LEGO robotics, and flying robotics. Not in the area? Not to worry. There are hundreds of other robotics and programming courses nationwide. You’ll find an excellent list here.

  7. Destination Science:

    With camps in five states, there’s bound to be a Destination Science camp not too far from where you live. These camps offer young students a chance to embrace their particular science passion, whether it’s robotics, physics, space exploration, or even oceanography. Camps last for a week and keep kids busy from morning until night with great activities, experiments, and explorations.

  8. RIT Kids on Campus:

    Kids don’t have to be done with their K-12 education to head to college when they take part in the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Kids on Campus program. The camp blends physical activity with a wide range of digitally-focused projects, including digital art, stop motion animation, web page design, and even designing their own pop-up books.

  9. Club Scientific:

    Club Scientific is based in Georgia, offering several different camp locations throughout the state. Camps are age leveled and offer the chance to learn and experiment with science for kids ages 4 to 14. Camps run on a weekly basis, but campers can sign up for more than one if they are interested. This year’s topics range from robotics to deep space to CSI to something called “grossology.”

  10. National Flight Academy:

    Older students with a passion for aviation or engineering will appreciate this amazing summer program in Pensacola, Florida. They’ll get to climb aboard real-life battleships, use digital simulations to employ engineering, math, and science in real-world simulations, and learn a great deal about aviation during their stay.

  11. Summer Safari Day Camp:

    For the zoology-obsessed youngster, a camp at the zoo could be the most amazing experience ever. Luckily, the Smithsonian National Zoological Park offers camps for students K-7 throughout the summer. Students will spend a week exploring the zoo, conducting science experiments, making crafts, and a wide range of other hands-on activities. If you don’t live near DC, not to worry; zoos nationwide offer similar programs.

  12. ID Tech Camps:

    Held in more than 20 states, this chain of summer camps offers students a chance to head to a local university to learn about fun technology topics like video game design, videography, robotics, programming, and web design, perfect for the tech-focused kid or teen. ID camps don’t neglect other aspects of a well-rounded summer vacation, however, also stressing outside activities through a morning or afternoon sports session that gets kids moving through surfing, Dance Dance Revolution, or team sports, and communication through board games and talent shows.

  13. Engineering Innovation:

    High school students can head to Johns Hopkins to take part in this amazing engineering camp spanning four weeks during the summer. It’s essentially an engineering class that is not only a great learning experience but that can also result in college credits. Students will complete a variety of experiments, do research, write essays, and build a variety of essential engineering skills.

  14. Summer Institute for the Gifted:

    Bright young children often want to spend their summers learning, and this summer camp offers them that chance. Located in seven states, the camps offer programs for students K-11 at some of the most prestigious colleges in the nation. Three-week courses focus on topics that vary from year to year but are generally STEM related. This year, students can even sign up to take the SAT at the end of their three-week program.

  15. AwesomeMath:

    A summer camp focused on math? That’s just what this fun camp offers. It’s held at a variety of college campuses nationwide, and asks students to apply their math skills to problem solving, often playing games or taking exciting field trips. Of course, it isn’t all fun and games; there are also lectures, forums, and problem sessions that can help kids build their skills and become much more math confident.

  16. Play-Well Summer Camp:

    These camps prove that learning can be fun by pairing STEM education with games and toys. Held in 18 states at dozens of different locations, the camps use LEGOs to teach engineering, physics, and architecture, while also helping young learners build confidence and boost creativity.

  17. TIC Summer Camp:

    Want your kids to learn and get exercise this summer? A TIC Summer Camp may be the solution. TIC camps spend half the day on sporting activities, including soccer, gymnastics, dance, Ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, street hockey, and basketball, and half the day on technology, like programming, robotics, web design, animation, filmmaking, and digital arts. The combination helps them to build both their minds and their bodies.

  18. MathPath:

    Students ages 11 to 14 can take part in this math-focused camp. Sessions are four weeks long, during which kids head to a college campus (it changes every year) and engage in math enrichment activities, problem solving, and lectures from well-known professors, as well as some down time for just having fun with other math-loving teens!

  19. MIT Summer Day Camp:

    Think your youngster is MIT bound? They can get a sneak preview of life on the college’s campus through their MIT engineering day camps. Lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, the camps offer high school students the chance to brainstorm a project idea and work on it with the help of professors and a group of his or her peers.

  20. Digital Media Academy:

    This camp is offered through several college campuses nationwide (see their website for a list) and is perfect for the student who wants to blend cool physical activities (think skateboarding) with some high-tech skills. Classes offer a wide range of options for computer and gadget-savvy kids, from 3D game design to web publishing and even a camp that focuses exclusively on teaching the Apple media application suite. The camps aren’t just for kids, however, and educators who are interested in becoming more tech adept can sign up as well.

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