By Dana Crisson, Educator
“It’s HOT.” “I’m BORED.” “What can I do today?”
Do those phrases sound familiar? Not here. The halls at the McWane Science Center are filled with excited day campers this summer. Here, the budding scientist can travel into outer space, explore a bug’s world, discuss the origins of mythical creatures, dive into marine biology, or pretend to be prefects like Harry Potter at Hogwarts or padawans in the Star Wars universe. Over fifty different camp themes allow children to experience something new each day. When you are having this much fun, it is impossible to be bored.
These camps are just as entertaining for those of us who work here as they are for the children who attend them. We have been planning and plotting for weeks, decorating classrooms (“Can you help me hang the ‘brick’ curtain for the secret entrance to Platform 9 ¾ for Hogwarts camp?”), collecting props and costumes (“Have you seen my Darth Vader mask?”), and hoarding supplies (“Who moved my stash of shoe boxes for my dioramas for Weird Wacky Science?”)
In Crazy Cool Chemistry camp we made copper pennies shiny again and we concocted bright green slime. We filled jars with heavy cream and shook the jars as we danced to music until the cream magically turned into butter, and the next day we explored the properties of yeast and the children ate their butter on fresh baked bread. “We are going to make butter like this at home,” said one excited student. “I’m going to tell my mother never to buy butter again.” The last day we feasted on delicious liquid nitrogen ice cream. “I LIKE science,” said one happy camper with an ice cream mustache.
Throughout McWane Science Center, other educators are helping their students have hands-on fun, too. To borrow a phrase from Art Linkletter, some of our camping kids say the darnedest things. The children at Science and Music camp were studying musical instruments all week and on Friday they were asked to bring in instruments to play for the class, so one child brought a guitar and one brought bells. Another child didn’t bring an instrument, but brought a bowl and spoon. As she flipped the bowl over and began to play her homemade drum, the educator asked the other campers what kind of instrument the child was playing. After a moment of thoughtful silence, another camper said, “I don’t know, but it looks like a chicken casserole to me!” The Star Wars campers had food on the brain last week as well. Throughout the week, the kids studied the science behind making the Star Wars movies. They were divided into groups where they actually wrote scripts and made props for their very own Star Wars movie, which was acted out, filmed and then screened in our Rushton Theater on the first floor. The group named the Starbucks scripted a scene involving frappuccino. The Mental Ewoks wrote a script called “The Last Sandwich of Darth Vader,” and the script from the TonTons of Hoth group had Darth Vader repeatedly calling for hot chocolate. (Hmmm, I’m sensing a theme here….) And lastly, overheard at craft time in Rock On Camp: “These are baby scissors—and I’m SEVEN!”
So, as the temperatures continue to soar into the upper 90s and the allure of the neighborhood pool begins to wear thin, think about reserving a space for your child to attend one of our camps. Today at lunch I watched a group of first graders from the Science of Superheroes camp shouting excitedly as they dashed about on the front plaza wearing yellow fabric capes. Several camps in July and the first week in August are still open; campers can explore the ocean floor in Under the Sea, dig paleontology in Dino Discoveries, discover kitchen chemistry in Science Attack on Food, along with a number of other unique camp themes.
McWane summer camps make learning an unforgettable adventure that kids will never forget. At the “world premiere” of the newest Star Wars DVD from last week’s Star Wars camp, one child exclaimed as she was watching the campers on the screen re-enacting very own battle scene with light sabers and blasters, “This is wicked awesome!”
Dana Crisson, her husband, Dwight, are huge fans of both the Harry Potter and Star Wars series. Their daughters, Rachel, 20, and Christina, 17, are also huge fans and regret that they are too old to attend any of the camps at McWane this summer, but unfortunately their parents made them get paying jobs instead.