Create a Kid-Run Science Camp This Summer

Help your kids set up a unique day camp where neighborhood kids help perform simple science experiments.
By Liz Heinecke
Jul 01, 2017

Ages

6-13


Jul 01, 2017

Say goodbye to summer brain drain. Using a few inexpensive supplies and a little bit of organization, it’s easy for your child to put together a science camp that'll have the neighborhood kids begging to sign up, and have some outdoor fun with siblings and friends.

Here’s how to help your child put it together.

1. Explore: Take a trip to your local library or bookstore and encourage your child to check out some kids’ science experiment books. Alternatively, search websites and free apps, like the KidScience app for fun ideas. Offer sticky notes to mark experiments she wants to try or bookmark fun projects found online.


2. Narrow down: From the projects of interest, help your young scientist choose four or five experiments that are safe, easy, inexpensive, and don’t require much adult supervision.

Here are some suggestions: DIY Paper Bag Volcano, Wet Goo Painting, Giant Dish Soap Bubbles, Glue & Contact Lens Solution Slime, Tie-Dye Milk, Fizzy Balloons, Mentos Geyser.

3. Organize: Have your young child decide how many kids to invite and make a list of supplies she’ll need, like baking soda, vinegar, food coloring, coffee filters, small water bottles, cornstarch, balloons, diet soda, and Mentos. Don’t forget to have mixing containers like plastic plates and bowls, as well as plastic spoons for mixing up solutions. Paper towels are handy for wiping up spills, and trays and baking sheets can hold experiments that may overflow.

4. Collect supplies: Have your child find as many supplies as possible around the house. Buy the rest at a discount or grocery store. Keep receipts and have your child do some math to figure out how much the camp costs per person. (Divide the amount spent, by the number of kids attending the camp.)


5. Plan: Decide with your child where to have the camp. Outdoors is best. Try to find a spot that will be in the shade during experiment time. Picnic tables make great lab benches, but driveways and sidewalks work well too. Make a list of the order of experiments. It’s fun to end with something spectacular, like the diet soda and Mentos geyser.


6. Invite: Have your child invite siblings and friends to the camp by making science-y invitations and delivering them by foot or email. Include the date, time and address of the camp. Suggest that attendees wear old clothes, in case they get food coloring on them. Ask each child to bring a pair of sunglasses or safety goggles to wear.

7. Prepare: Write down or print out copies of the experiment instructions for each of the kids at the camp. With your child, try each experiment at least once before the camp starts so you’ll know what you’re doing. Suggest that your child read about the science concept they’re exploring and have them practice explaining the experiments to you.

8. Set up: On the day of camp, set out trays, cups, bowls, and spoons. Put out a cupful of pencils and markers, so campers can take notes and draw their experiments.

9. Welcome: Welcome campers, fill them in on safety rules and have them choose a tray to work on. Once everyone is ready, let the science begin. Have your child introduce and demonstrate each experiment. It’s good to have an adult on the fringes keeping an eye on things, but let your kids run the show. 


10. Clean up: When camp is over, remind the kids to help your child clean everything up. This is a great last step to encourage responsibility.

Next time you hear the dreaded phrase, "I'm bored," hand your child a pencil and encourage her to start planning. After all, summer is a perfect time to dive into some science.

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Find science experiments and projects at kitchenpantryscientist.com, and in my books Kitchen Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books) and Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books).

Featured Photos Credit: © Quarry Books

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