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What to Expect
at STEM Camp

By: Jenny Whichard ’92, Director of SummerEdge
Students in class. Students in class.

Since its inception in 2017, STEM Camp located in Potomac, Maryland has been a fan-favorite at SummerEdge. Campers who start out registered for only one week more often than not ask to return for more STEM adventures. To get to the root of STEM Camp’s broad appeal, and to answer some common questions about it, we chatted with Andrew Tran, SummerEdge STEM Camp Coordinator and Jamie Tucker, veteran STEM Camp instructor/STEM teacher at McLean School.

Q: What if my child isn’t generally into STEM? Will they feel out of place?

AT: STEM is for everyone! There isn’t a set of skills or knowledge that students are assumed to already have. All STEM campers need is a willingness to try new things and build upon their successes.

JT: No need to worry! STEM Camp incorporates lessons and activities that are multi-modal and approachable by campers with varying interests. STEM as a field provides us with a wide range of subjects that give way for experiences that all campers can enjoy and engage in. Even if your child normally doesn’t enjoy typical STEM courses, they will surely find some fantastic experiences at SummerEdge’s program!

Q: Is STEM camp all about coding and computers?

AT: No. STEM is the culmination of science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM is a large umbrella that combines multiple disciplines into a cross-cutting manner. Think about it as a slice of cake. Every layer is a different subject within STEM, and that cake will be better together as a whole.

JT: In short: no, it is not all about coding and computers. Both coding and computers are only a component of what is offered at STEM Camp. Theme camps like: Virtual Game Design and Inventors and Engineers would include activities that focus on these aspects of STEM, but we have many other subjects that you can sign up for. Your child will not be looking at a screen all day, we have many activities to get the kids up and moving to create meaningful (and fun) experiences!

Q: What are some examples of STEM Camp programs?

ES: Each week of STEM Camp has a different theme around which the projects and activities revolve. Summer 2024 will have these themes:

  • Virtual Game Design – Explore and create your own virtual reality environment
  • CSI – Where everyone gets to be a spy
  • Innovators & Inventors – You’re the engineer this week
  • Magic of Science – Bring out your inner wizard
  • STEM by Air and Sea – Explore the 7 seas and infinite airspace
  • Legos – Get ready, get set, build!

AT: Some additional topics we have covered in past summers are:

  • Medical Technology/Biomedical Engineering
  • Forensics
  • Computer Programming with Visual Arts
  • Engineering Marvels
  • Space and Rocketry Science

Three students working on a project together.

Q: How much hands-on experience are kids getting at STEM Camp?

AT: It is mostly hands-on with a few instances of direct instruction. The tenet of STEM is: developing inquiry, problem-solving, and cooperation through collaboration with others.

JT: With all subjects in STEM Camp, we try to work in hands-on activities that the campers will enjoy and learn from. With that being said, we have some weeks that lend themselves more to hands-on experiences, such as Yucky Science and Inventors and Engineers, but all weeks will have a hands-on component.

Q: Are the STEM Camp programs academic in nature? What sort of knowledge can they expect to gain?

AT: They are academic but an enrichment to what students would normally experience during the school year.

JT: While our programs do cover academic subjects and concepts, we feel that our main focus is fun and experiential learning. This will feel much different for your child than a typical STEM class during the school year. We want the campers to go home each day with something fun to share with their families and a unique set of skills that can lead them to find a passion for STEM!

A little girl working to melt ice.

Q: How will this benefit my child moving forward?

AT: They will gain insight into real-world application of their science, technology, engineering, and math knowledge.

JT: We provide unique and fun experiences for the wide range of topics we cover and feel that your child will discover a new found appreciation and love for the sciences. After the campers return home from STEM Camp, they will have developed new skills that can be further developed into a lifelong hobby! Our mission is to make STEM a fun and approachable area of study for all kids and inspire them to become junior scientists as well!

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add for our families about why you think STEM Camp is such a popular program at SummerEdge?

AT: It’s hands-on and allows for students to engage in STEM without grades being attached. It is purely experiential with hands-on learning. Every day at STEM Camp is always a new and exciting experience.

JT: STEM Camp is popular in part due to how exciting and engaging we make it. There is always a theme that the campers can find an interest in, and our approach never makes this camp feel like school. We have so much flexibility and room for instructors and campers to collaborate to make their summer experience a memorable one.

If you’ve got a novice or experienced scientist ready for a fun and engaging STEM summer, and you’re ready to register your child now, please visit our registration link for SummerEdge. You can also request information here. For the 2024 Summer, SummerEdge STEM camp will be offered from June 24 to August 2.