STEM summer camps offer kids educational alternative

A three girl team from a robotics class on competition day at a camp held at Tuscarora High School.
Campers celebrate a win from their robotics class.
Participants get ready to launch their rockets at a TARC Camp in Manassas.
Students launch a rocket.
A Camp student shows off his robot during camp at NOVA Manassas.

WASHINGTON — Summer has arrived and it’s time to start signing up kids for summer camps. And while many camps involve horses or camping out, others are meant to keep kids’ brains moving.

But they’re anything but boring. When building robots and rockets are involved STEM camps can get exciting.

The special camps are specifically related to science, technology, engineering and math.

Systemic Solution at Northern Virginia Community College offers STEM classes in engineering, programming, cybersecurity and 3-D printing classes, among others.

There’s even a class called Robotics and Rocketry where students get the chance to build.

“The rocket stands a little over five feet tall and then at the end of that camp they actually get to shoot off the rockets,” says Amy Harris, director of Systemic Solutions at Northern Virginia Community College. 

“Our camps are not just babysitting. They’re good, strong technical camps,” says Harris.

Systemic Solutions camp locations include the Prince William, Loudoun and Fairfax county areas.

A 1-week camp is $285. A 2-week camp is $450. Registration fees cover equipment, materials and coach salaries. But Harris says corporate sponsors defray a large portion of camp costs and need-based scholarships are available.

“We’ve never turned away a student who could not afford to come into the program,” says Harris.

For some students, the STEM camp may lead to an interest in related classes in some schools.

“It’s really how we gauge the interest and continue to inspire them – through working with them through summer camps and then they continue in the school year in their competitive robotics teams,” Harris says.

Click here for more information about the STEM program.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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