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Best Summer Camps for Little Rocket Scientists

By Emily Frost | March 17, 2014 8:43am
 These handpicked summer camps combine science with fun to make for an entertaining and educational experience. 
Summer Camps that Will Make Your Little Rocket Scientist Soar
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NEW YORK CITY — The best science-focused camps recognize that while summer symbolizes breaking out of the classroom, it shouldn't mean that kids lose their intellectual curiosity and thirst for learning.

"It’s not schoolwe want to stay away from making it that," said Preeti Gupta, director of Youth Learning and Research at the American Museum of Natural History. The goal of their programs, Gupta said, is "to take the excitement [about topics] and ratchet it up a notch." 

"There’s no test. There’s no homework really," Gupta said, except, perhaps, "when you go home, don’t forget to look at the moon tonight."

DNAinfo New York scouted the best science camps in the city and found programs that place a heavy emphasis on fun, hands-on activities and experimentation — whether it's building a 12-foot robot, designing your own toy or analyzing a tarantula.

Check out DNAinfo New York's camp guide here.

Video Game Design

2672 Broadway, Loft A, Upper West Side
June 16 - Aug 29
$425 for 9 a.m. - noon or 1-4 p.m.
Full-day camp options available at a $55 discount.
Grades K-6

Turn your child's video game obsession into a productive force with RoboFun's Video Game Design course. Attendees use the free programming platform Scratch, developed by the MIT Media Lab, to design and create their own video games. The games can include animation, characters, scenes, obstacles and controls.

Digital Universe Flight School

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street, Upper West Side
Aug. 11-15, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Grades 6-8
Member price: $525 / Non-member price: $550

Not many kids can say they spent their summer vacation going to space flight school. The American Museum of Natural History offers those bragging rights through its Digital Universe Flight School. The weeklong camp lets kids take a tour of space using 3-D maps and data visualization tools. Video game lovers will enjoy using gaming software to create their own planetarium show they'll present to guests at the end of the week.

Apply here.

Astro Adventures

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street, Upper West Side
July 7-11, Aug. 11-15, Aug. 25-29, for Grades 2-3
July 14-18 for Grades 4-5
Member price: $525 / Non-member price: $550

Kids dazzled by the museum's planetarium will enjoy indulging their curiosity for outer space. This day camp has hands-on aspects, including building and using a telescope and experiencing a digital simulation of the universe. And through activities, kids tackle questions of life beyond Earth and how to find out about distant planets and moons. 

The program is geared towards kids with any level of experience with science and astronomy, Gupta said.

To register, call 212-769-5200.

Science Teacher Sarah

112 West 14th St., Suite 3W, Greenwich Village
Camp begins June 16
$375/week, M-F, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

New York City is this camp's playground, with three field trips promised a week. The field trips include outings to typical science-oriented places like the American Museum of Natural History, but also to less obvious spots like the American Museum of the Moving Image, to explore ways that culture and art intersect with science. The emphasis of this camp is first and foremost on fun and is geared towards general science exploration. The West 14th Street classroom showcases animals (including a tarantula and parakeets) and geodes and crystals, as well as a shortwave cave to explore ultraviolet light, making it an exciting home base for the camp.

Brooklyn Robot Foundry

528 Canal St., TriBeCa
303 3rd Ave., Brooklyn

$850 for full-week sessions June 11-Aug. 29; $680 for four-day session (June 30-July 3)
$510 for three-day session (June 11-13)
Grades 1-7

Through the Brooklyn Robot Foundry's "Robot Vehicles" class, kids will get a chance not only to build simple robots, but to play with them, according to the founders. The playful activities include races, parades and sumo matches with their new creations. "Robot Universe," another camp option, involves creating buildings and structures. At the end of the week, kids create a 12-foot-tall Godzilla-like robot. In the more advanced "Robot Programming" class, older children use programming to build robots in small groups.

Science and Technology Camp

Marymount School
1026 Fifth Ave., Upper East Side
June 23-July 25
$3,900 for 5 weeks; 
$3,375 for 4 weeks; $2,800 for 3 weeks
$1,975 for 2 weeks and $1,000 for one week. 
8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m, with after camp from 3 - 5 p.m.
Grades 2-7

For the camper who is looking for a potpourri of science exploration, plus some cool field trips and swim and sports time, Marymount School has an ideal option. The camp offers robotics, animation and video game design instruction, and the chance to make a digital video. The school's science labs are used for experiments in chemistry, physics, biology and environmental science. The rest of the campus offers swimming and outdoor activities that offer a break for scientists-in-training.

Curious Jane

Various Locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn
$485-$585 a week, depending on location
9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. with early drop-off and late pick-up available
Grades 1-6

Curious Jane will give your DIY-loving girl a chance to excel, away and apart from her male peers this summer. These all-girl camps are offered at various locations, including the Brooklyn Free School, the Berkeley Carroll School, the Mandell School and the Marymount School. They cover a breadth of topics, all revolving around trying new things. Girls can try out toy design, creating gadgets, the basics of spying and the science behind it, and architectural techniques, among other classes available. All classes emphasize nurturing girls and their ideas and letting their imaginations run wild, according to founder Samantha Razook Murphy, a Brooklyn mom and graphic designer.

Storefront Science

265 W. 79th St., Upper West Side
July 7-Aug. 29
9 a.m.- 4 p.m. for $600/week; 
or 9 a.m.- noon; or 1-4 p.m. for $350/week
Ages 4-12

Storefront Science's summer courses are designed to go in-depth on a topic and emphasize exploration. The organization describes itself as "a moveable science feast.” Kids can take a course exploring kites, with time devoted to designing and building the soaring toys. Or they can figure out the physics behind playgrounds, all while exploring and testing out concepts around the neighborhood. There's even courses on sub-atomic particles and paleontology.

Check out DNAinfo New York's camp guide here.