The increasing importance being placed on getting kids interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and math has prompted the folks at the Ahwatukee Community Swim and Tennis Center to offer a new summer activity for children 6 to 12 years old.
During June and July, the center will host weekly STEM and Sports Camps with seven five-day sessions with different themes.
“I am excited about the curriculum and fun activities the kids will get to experience,” said center director Susan Hyden.
Among the highlights will be a visit by Arizona State University’s STARlab, an acronym for STAtistical leaRning Lab, the weeks of June 10-14 and July 15-19.
The STARlab is an inflatable, portable planetarium from ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.
“Campers will learn about our solar system & galaxy, 45 classical Greek constellations on a background of 3,000 stars and other mythology constellations, the Milky Way Starfield, the moon and much more,” Hyden said. “The stars will come alive in this unforgettable dome.”
Hyden said the camps will provide “a wide variety of STEM activities that spark imagination, creativity and learning in a fun and relaxed environment.
“The camp promotes kids to immerse themselves in a science and engineering-rich environment, with the goal being to stimulate a sustained interest in these disciplines,” she said.
But it won’t be all learning. After all, it is summer recess.
“To encourage healthy lifestyles, kids will also participate each day in the sports of tennis and swim,” Hyden said.
The STARlab will be the main attraction during Galaxy Exploration and Space week sessions.
The titles of the other weeks are: “Nature Unleashed,” “iRobot,” “X-treme Science,” “Forces of Nature” and “Destination Imagination.” Our website provides more details for each week’s activities.
Nature Unleashed Week will look at weather, and cover tornadoes, snow, fog and clouds, among other weather occurrences.
Campers will get to make fog, create snowflakes in a soda bottle and perform other safe experiments, Hyden said.
Guest speaker will be retired Fox 10 weatherman Dave Munsey, known for his advocacy for water safety with his slogan, “Watch your kids around water.”
“Many other guest speakers are being lined up to bring their expertise” in STEM fields, Hyden added.
During the first STARlab visit the second week, a guest speaker will be Marni Anbar, co-creator and director of the Discover Room, Kyrene School District’s science and engineering room for kids in kindergarten to fifth grade.
Anbar is working alongside the center’s personnel “to ensure an educational and fun way for kids to enjoy their summer,” Hyden added.
“iRobot Week” will give kids a chance to create recycled and task-driven robots as well as learn coding.
The guest speaker will this week is from Arizona State University’s Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing, or CUBIC.
X-treme Science Week will teach campers about the biggest waves, animals, glaciers and mountain ranges of the past and present.
“They will explore what makes the biggest predators so lethal,” Hyden said. “Campers will experiment with mechanics and learn how pullies, levers and simple machines operate. They will participate in hands on activities such as growing crystals.”
Forces of Nature Week will help campers develop some addition knowledge of extreme weather. “Campers will learn about the forces of nature and how they change Earth’s environment,” Hyden explained, adding:
“They will create volcanos, build a tornado in a bottle, make a seismograph and learn about the electricity spark of lightning. Campers will explore the causes and effects of meteorites and other natural disasters.”
During the sixth week, when STARlab makes a return appearance, campers will learn about lunar phases, eclipses and features and mark the anniversary of the first landing on the moon.
They also will learn about weather patterns, ocean currents, time zones and current events.
The final week, titled “Destination Imagination,” will focus on creativity and problem solving.
Campers will participate in drama, art and improv, performing experiments such as an egg drop or marshmallow/toothpick structure activity.
They will perform skits and plays, create a model of an invention that can solve an everyday problem and engage in other problem-solving exercises.
Cost per week is $220 with a 10 percent discount for siblings.
The camp runs 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily.
Campers bring their own lunch and snacks and drinks are provided in the afternoon.
Registration/information: ahwatukeecommunitycenter.com or 480-893-3431.