It’s STEM for ALL at Discovery Camp at The Franklin Institute!
Give your child the opportunity to consider how the world works with Discovery Camp at The Franklin Institute!
Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute always welcomes young, curious minds, especially at summer camp. During week-long sessions at Discovery Camp, campers from kindergarten through ninth grade get to spend hours in the acclaimed science museum and balance that time with hands-on classroom activities that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Campers have many opportunities to develop questions and push their curiosity in the museum’s many exhibits, including those about the brain, the heart, physics, aviation, space, and the science of sport. They get to enjoy theater and live shows as well as floor demonstrations staffed by enthusiastic volunteers and scientists. “Campers love the venue,” says Jessica McDermott, assistant director of programs at the Franklin Institute. “They even pop in on weekends with their families to show them what they’ve learned at camp.”
So why are these campers so captivated by the Franklin Institute and STEM? It may have to do with the camp’s philosophy. “Our goal every week at camp is to bring kids together to get excited and confident in their ability to learn STEM,” says McDermott. “We’re happy if kids walk out with 1,000 more questions than when they began the week. Camp is about encouraging their curiosity.”
Curiosity extends to campers of all kinds. “I am really proud of our inclusion efforts at the Franklin Institute. We have leaned into doing training to be ready for kids, volunteers, and staff who are neurodiverse, and we welcome differences of all kinds,” says McDermott. “As long as they have excitement or interest in STEM, they’ll feel welcome.”
Counselors know how to draw out campers’ curiosity by using strategies that are rooted in the neuroscience of learning and memory. Before each camp year, Franklin Institute staff train counselors using the same activities from their formal professional development series about teaching science to kids.
This approach to learning helps counselors tailor each week of camp to the group of campers who walk through the doors on Monday morning. “The days of camp are pretty flexible,” says McDermott, “so counselors can gauge what kids are interested in or excited about, and groups can move at their own pace.”
Counselors also work with each camp group at the beginning of the week to establish rules and guidelines for the week and hold campers accountable to their own ideas.
Franklin Institute camps are full-day programs that run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the option of adding before and after care. Weekly programs divide campers into three groups, Mini Molecules (kindergarten through second grade), Awesome Atoms (grades three through six), and Excited Electrons (grades seven through nine). Camp themes change each week and focus on science topics featured at the museum.
“Our camp T-shirts say ‘Science is everywhere,’ and we want to teach campers that science isn’t scary or something big. It’s all around us,” says McDermott. A week or more at the Franklin Institute will give your child the opportunity to consider how the world works and form more questions about new topics to explore.