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  • Writer's pictureDeirdre

Summer Fun: STEAM Summer Camp

With a chilly wind this morning, summer is finally waving it's final goodbyes to us all. Yes, it's back to school time, leaving summer as a lingering memory in all of our minds. If I were to write a little back-to-school essay entitled, "My Favorite Part of Summer Vacation", it would surely be about MakeInspires' STEAM Summer camp.

This summer at MakeInspires was filled so many activities - from 3D printing, to Minecraft, to our Engineering Challenge Fridays. Every day was different, busy, and exciting. We had full days filled with giggles, learning, new friends, and plenty of fun.

(Campers making paper shapes, houses, and hockey sticks with our Maker Mascot, Smokey!)


So what was a day in the life? How does Summer Camp work? (we are Makers after all - we care about how things work)

Each week of our camp offers 2-4 subjects, rotating throughout the summer. This keeps each week fresh and innovative, and pushes kids to try things in the Makerspace that they might not have tried before. Campers sign up for the subject(s) they are interested in, and then our team makes the magic happen with daily activities and lessons. You don't need any prior experience to sign up for subject - just a eagerness and willingness to try! Campers can either join us for a half day in the AM/PM, or for the full day with a pizza lunch included.

While we have plenty of hands-on building projects, a lot of the activities in the Makerspace are still screen based. It's important to all of us at MakeInspires to take screen breaks and engage in no-screen activities and even some camp-y games. We played Magic The Gathering, went to the playground, modeled with clay, and much more during our screen break time. As a manager and instructor who spends most of her day looking at a screen, I've never been so happy to see a Jenga tower in my life! I am still the reigning Jenga champion in Mamaroneck....you can challenge me again next summer.

(Pre screen-break, our Instructor Greyson teaches students how to play chess for our MakeInspires chess tournament)


Perhaps one of the most fun parts of our summer camp is our Engineering Challenge Friday. Students will be presented with a challenge, limited materials, limited time, and with minimal instruction, try to solve a design prompt. This has been everything from:

"Design a Lego boat that floats and holds the most weight"
to
"Protect an egg from a 12ft tall drop"

These challenge days are so special as they take us outside of our comfort zone and push on our critical reasoning and problem solving skills in a fun environment. If there's one thing we are really good at doing at MakeInspires, it's disguising education as play!

(As Greyson drops the egg from 12ft up, our campers don't have much confidence in their engineering - but don't worry, the egg survived!)


If I had to pick, my favorite part of the summer was my Engineering, Building, & Design week where we made cardboard automata. We learned about cams and mechanical motion, and then campers (CAMpers?) were set loose to design their own contraption of moving parts via cam mechanisms. One camper, pictured here, designed his automata to be the Titantic bobbing up and down over the waves...no boats were harmed in the making of this automata!

(An automata is powered by a spinning cam that moves a cam follower attached to the boat, making the boat move up and down)


If you're like me and already can't wait for next summer, join us for one of our School's Out! workshops throughout the year. These are one-off camp days to keep the summer camp fun going all year round! Our first one is on September 25th, and the rest are posted on the website for each makerspace.

Keep making and stay inspired,
Deirdre
Manager @ MakeInspires Chappaqua



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