Are you planning your child’s summer schedule and want to incorporate STEM camps or activities into the mix? This summer, I am happy to report that in-person STEM camps are making a strong comeback, and I know that parents are eager to have their kids participate in person again. However, parents have also seen the benefits of online classes and camps during the past two years. Online summer camps give you access to top-notch STEM programs from around the country with live instruction, giving you a wide spectrum of choice and convenience. This article outlines how parents can find great virtual summer programs for kids and teens.
3 Places to Find Online STEM Camps
1. Year-round programs with summer offerings
If you’re searching for an online summer camp, take a look at my online STEM classes article. Many of these organizations offer their classes during the summer and some even create unique programs tailored for the summer. These programs are offered live and are led by instructors; most charge a fee.
2. University programs
Universities and colleges are another source for online summer STEM programs for teens. Some have adapted their curriculum for virtual offerings that can include live lectures, career talks, case studies, hands-on work, and capstone projects. For example, UMass Amherst offers a 2-week session in Programming for Aspiring Scientists: Python with Applications to Physics, and Tufts University offers a 2-week Mini-Med School.
To search online for a university-based program in your area, it’s best to search on a specific topic. For instance, you might search on “[name of a university near you] pre-college summer [robotics] programs.” You could also call the department in the particular topic area your child is interested in: for example, call the Department of Engineering if you’re looking for a hands-on engineering and design program.
3. Other summer-only programs
Some organizations host specialized programs that are only offered in the summer. Some charge substantial fees, others have more modest prices, and still others are free. A sample is shown below.
- DC Design offers Design the Future: Digital, a program that teaches high school students how to design and build products for individuals with disabilities. The program, created by DC Design and developed in collaboration with the Institute of Design at Stanford (the d.school), partners teams of high school students and a university design coach with an individual living with a physical disability. In the two-week remote summer program, students design and launch real apps that improve the quality of life for their assigned “project partner.”
- Smithsonian Summer Camp introduces the world of the Smithsonian to children entering kindergarten through eleventh grade. Live, interactive sessions allow kids to explore Smithsonian collections and themes. Campers take virtual field trips and interact with other kids while playing games, creating crafts, meeting experts, and completing challenges.
- The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center provides virtual and weeklong summer camps in genetics and molecular biology for students in grades 6-12. Campers receive materials kits so they can perform labs and activities at home, and participate alongside classmates and instructors in real time or on demand with video instruction. In-person camps are also available at DNA Learning Centers in Cold Spring Harbor, Sleepy Hollow, and Brooklyn, New York.
- The Forsyth Institute Student Scholars Remote Science Camps are for middle and high school students interested in science. The programs introduce students to the research-focused science related to oral health in which Forsyth scientists specialize—microbiology, immunology, bones and teeth, public health, and oral health. Middle school camps will focus on one specialty area each day. High school camps will focus on a single topic per camp session: microbiology, immunology, etc.
- Qubit by Qubit offers quantum computing camps for grades 7-12. Students develop skills in quantum computing – the technology of the future. Can one particle be in multiple places at the same time? In quantum physics, it’s possible with superposition. Students learn these weird wonders of quantum computing along with the bizarre phenomena of entanglement. In summer 2022, students will also learn Qiskit, IBM’s quantum coding language, and run code in a real quantum computer.
- Boston Leadership Institute offers Biotech Research, Biomedical and Surgical Research, and STEM Entrepreneurship for teens. Programs provide students with the opportunity to develop high-level research skills and subject matter expertise as well as strengthening credentials valuable for college admissions interviews and essays.
- Girls Make Games offers camps to girls and non-binary kids ages 8-18. Students work in groups of 5-6 with a live online instructor to learn how to design and program their own video games. No previous coding or game development experience is necessary. The students also collaborate on playing online games, participate in community contests, and attend online programs featuring speakers who talk about careers in the video games industry.
- STEAM Ahead & MIT Media Lab is hosting Everyday AI Workshop, an immersive 2-week program, led by MIT & STEAM Ahead facilitators July 11-22. The workshop will feature hands-on and computer-based activities on a variety of AI concepts. Students will get experience using machine learning to make predictions, investigate bias in machine learning applications, use generative adversarial networks to create novel works of art, and learn how to recognize the AI we interact with daily and in the world around us. This is a free program for rising 6th-9th grade students in Massachusetts. Applications are due by June 3.
- STEAM Ahead is offering STEAM Academy courses, giving students the space to explore STEAM through guided study and hands-on work with technologies and solutions of today and tomorrow. Sign up for courses on a variety of topics and develop real skills including 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), engineering, music & songwriting, environmental science, coding languages, and more. This is a free program for suggested grades 6-10. Applications are due by May 20.
- MehtA+ is offering two summer camps in AI/Machine Learning taught by MIT & Stanford Engineers – an intensive 6-week machine learning research bootcamp for current 8th-12th graders and an introductory 1-week AI in visual arts camp for current 5th-12th graders. In the research bootcamp, students will receive the opportunity to work closely with professors from top universities in completing an AI research project in the sciences or the humanities.
- Classroom Antics is offering week-long virtual Minecraft coding and animation camps for ages 9-13. The programs feature small class sizes, focused learning, real-time instructor feedback, and social interaction with other kids. Their long-standing in-person camps for kids are also available in Cleveland, OH, Columbus, OH, Cincinnati, OH and Detroit, MI.
Looking for in-person STEM camps?
If you are looking for an in-person camp rather than a virtual STEM summer camp, here’s a sampling of well-known organizations that run programs all over the country. You can also find programs in your community offered by local companies, libraries, museums, universities, and youth-focused organizations. Search for them online and contact them directly. In many areas, the local newspapers publish a special summer camp guide in late winter or early spring, which will include many listings from those local organizations. And if you live in Massachusetts, review my extensive list of 100+ STEM summer camps.
Finally, for more on evaluating a summer STEM program for your child, check out BostonTechMom’s tips.