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Natural Awakenings

Boot Camps for the Career-Bound

Feb 08, 2012 03:33PM ● By April Thompson

Courtesy of and Citizen Schools

Camps specializing in STEM-related subjects are cropping up across the nation. For a period of a week or more, they give children the chance to steep themselves in a favorite subject with peers that share their passions. Hands-on projects such as sleuthing crime scenes and assessing environmental habitats give kids a taste of what it’s like to work in a particular field and stretch their brains and muscles in the process.

Here are just a few of the types of STEM-oriented camps offered. Visit for a comprehensive listing.

Experimenting: General science camps make it possible to sample its different branches, from astronomy to zoology, and learn how things work through fun, interactive experiments. These group-oriented camps foster leadership and teamwork, as well as curiosity and discipline; key characteristics for any career in science.

Animals: Veterinary camps teach skills ranging from basic animal handling to diagnosing disease. Often co-sponsored by university animal science programs, these camps typically blend lab and classroom work with fascinating field trips.

Beachcombing: Marine sciences camps help introduce kids to Earth’s precious and complex maritime and underwater ecosystems. These camps often involve enjoyable activities like tidepooling, beach surveys and canoeing, while teaching skills such as conservation principles and sampling methods.

Mystery: Crime scene investigation (CSI) camps introduce youths to the field of forensic sciences. Campers learn the art and craft of evidence collection, while developing observation and problem-solving skills. They may get to practice DNA testing, ballistics analysis, autopsy techniques and other tools of the trade.

Robot building: Robotics camps make the challenging field of engineering approachable for children of all ages. Students are taken step-by-step through the engineering process, from designing and building through programming and testing. The sessions often culminate in a competition in which camp robots are pitted against each other on a ball field or obstacle course.

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