Boca Camp Provides Summer Science Lessons

Jonathan D. Marcus, Forum Publishing Group
Sun Sentinel
July 18, 2011

Youngsters are learning all about science this summer in Boca Raton.

The Children's Science Explorium at Sugar Sand Park is offering seven one-week science camps that help kids understand the natural world.

The goal is to "show kids that science is all around us, it impacts us in every way," said Heather Peete, the park's science curator.
 

Each day, campers focus on different aspects of science. Topics include engineering, natural science, hurricanes, chemistry and a science challenge day every Friday.

Solar energy, ultraviolet light, animal adaptation and the mysteries of bubbles are discussed in natural science sessions. Small beads that change color when exposed to certain light beams are used to demonstrate the effects of ultraviolet light.

Chemistry sessions have taught the science of tie-dye and chromatography, and science challenge days incorporate games to reinforce learning during the week.

Each week, about 40 campers work cooperatively in small groups on a wide range of activities. High school volunteer counselors help kids with projects that teach scientific principles.

"We're not structured like a classroom school setting. Kids are working in small groups and counselors lead activities. We incorporate games but relate it to science," Peete said.

Activities are varied to suit the campers' age levels.

"Especially with the younger kids, I like to keep it very basic," said Rachel Scarafia, a science educator at the park.

During a recent special project, older campers used Bricks 4 Kidz project kits with battery-powered motors and gears to build small devices from LEGO blocks. Campers created colorful spin-art projects and shapes out of paper with the kits.

"It's really neat. I've never seen anything like that," said 9-year-old Kate Stutts of the spin-art project.

Separate camps are staged on a rotating basis for kids entering first and second grades and third through fifth grades. The final week beginning Aug. 1 will be for children about to enter kindergarten.

"The earlier they are exposed to science, the less intimidating it will be," Peete said.

Sugar Sand Park is at 300 S. Military Trail. For more information, call 561-347-3912 or view http://www.scienceexplorium.org.

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