Most secondary schools in Ireland finish up for the summer today and, as the long school holidays stretch ahead, parents’ thoughts are no doubt turning to how they will keep their kids occupied during the summer months.
While teens may be able to take care of themselves and occupy their time with hours of Netflix, or perhaps even a summer job, for younger children, summer camps can be a good option, combining, as they generally do, elements of both education and childcare.
With that in mind, we decided to round up some summer camps that have, under their remit, the aim of igniting in kids an interest in the world of STEM.
With courses from coding and science to archaeology, animation and aviation, one of the camps on this list will be sure to spark your child’s interest.
Most of these camps are aimed at primary-school-age children, with the bulk of activities taking place in July and August, but some have activities on offer for teens, too.
With such a huge range of activities on offer, school may be out for summer, but summer camps are in!
Dotted all over Munster, Designer Minds is run by Helena and Donal Lyne, operating summer camps covering the STEAM subjects throughout July and August, with €120 the cost for a five-day camp. Both junior (aged 8-9) and senior (10-12) groups are catered for. Each day is a different topic, so science, technology, engineering, arts and maths all get equal billing.
Robots, magnets, Lego, K’nex, tablets and other electronics are some of the equipment Designer Minds brings to lessons, giving children the opportunity to experience an array of scientific and technological toys and gadgets, awakening curiosity and broadening minds.
Trinity Walton Club brings schoolgoers into the lab with PhD students, teaching them everything there is to know about STEM research. The camps last 10 days and there are three separate ones that you can apply for, each costing €425. They start on 20 June (already booked out), 11 July and 8 August, and are hosted at Trinity College Dublin. The age groups accepted in the club are children who will enter second, third or fourth year in September 2016.
The club – named after Nobel Prize winner Ernest Walton – will be part of the ‘Family Fringe’ event at this year’s Inspirefest.
Anyone4Science is running summer camps for primary school children across 24 different venues around the country. The five-day camps (of which there are dozens) cost €150, or €135 if you book before 6 June.
Kids will investigate botany, plastics, food science, pulleys and levers, natural selection, acids and bases, and much more through a range of age-appropriate hands-on activities. There are projects that create plastic out of milk, and an ominous-sounding experiment with vinegar and bread soda, “each year with a different objective”. A typical day is four hours, running 10am-2pm.
For the past eight years, the Atlantic AirVenture Aviation Camp in Shannon, Co Clare, has been helping kids pass their summer days by learning what it’s like to take to the skies as a pilot.
The kids get to learn the actual science behind how a plane is able to take to the air with ease, before finding out how a pilot plans their trip, from the controls to monitoring the weather. After this comes the fun of flying simulators while following real-world lesson plans, including a realistic cross-country flight.
Aimed at eight- to 13-year-olds, the camp runs from 11-15 July and costs €120 per child.
There’s also a one-week Aviation Academy for teenagers who might want to become pilots themselves in the future.
Taking place in locations in Mayo, Clare, Westmeath, Galway, Sligo and Dublin, the robotics camps run by Colmac Robotics are an amazing opportunity to expose children to the world of all things technology, engineering and robotics.
The camps, some of which cater for 9- to 12-year-olds and others 6- to 9-year-olds, run for five days and will take place during July and August.
Costing around €100 for the five days, kids will have the chance to work in small groups under supervision. With a LEGO Education robotics kit and a laptop running programming software, they will get hands-on with their robot creations. The bots will be put through their paces in a series of challenges, including hill climbing, robot racing, search and rescue, and even a sumo robot challenge.
A number of universities across Ireland will be buzzing during July and August for the WhizzKids camps, which give kids access to up-to-date computer labs and facilities normally only available to third-level students.
Available for kids aged from eight to 17, the summer camps lay the groundwork for a number of careers down the line, and include courses on HTML coding, app development and Scratch programming.
Teenagers get the chance to have a deeper experience in the facilities, with residential camps for 13- to 17-year-olds giving them the chance to spend anywhere from six to 10 days on campus, with some excursions off campus as well.
The five-day full-day camps will cost €155 for one child, with discounts available for siblings, and half-day options are also available.
The camps will span from 27 June to 12 August in various universities across the country.
Columbus Club is an academically-minded programme that runs year-round, helping children and teenagers to explore their potential within academic, literary, creative, sporting and culinary arenas.
The Dublin-based club runs summer camps in Blackrock and Leeson Park.
This year, primary-school-age campers can participate in a computer programming and coding camp, and a junior engineering and design camp – running from 7 June to 12 August – each of which lasts a week at a cost of €125. Each camp also has optional afternoon classes, including science and chess, which are an additional €50 per week.
For teenagers, Create an App runs for two-week periods between 13 June and 5 August at Leeson Park. This costs €350.
A residential summer camp based out of three locations along the Wild Atlantic Way, Connemara Maths Academy runs from June 19 to August 12 (rotating between locations).
A little pricier than other entries on this list – setting you back €800 for one week –what you get for that higher price may make it worth it.
Camp activities include music technology, sound production and performance, virtual reality and 3D mapping.
Students can participate in the Connemara Maths Academy at Kylemore Abbey or Killary Adventure Centre in Co Galway, or Glenstal Abbey in Co Limerick.
The camps cater for students from 10 to 17 (from 10 to 16 at the Killary Centre).
Early booking is advised as some of the camps have already booked out.
Running in Harold’s Cross Primary School for four weeks in July and August, and for one week in Castledermot in Kildare, these archaeology summer camps include a special trip to a national monument.
Aimed at kids aged 7 to 12 who are craving knowledge about the world around them, the camps cost €115 for one week, with discounts if you’re sending more than one child, and a day rate is also available. Run by the School of Irish Archaeology, the organisers pride themselves on providing innovative, engaging and hands-on education through archaeology in a fun and friendly environment
Held in Malahide and Killiney in Dublin – as well as Greystones in Wicklow and Dunboyne in Meath – through July and August, the Junior Einsteins Science Camps are aimed at curious 6- to 11-year-olds who want to be engaged and challenged by science.
The camps feature all kinds of fun experiments and hands-on activities, including illusions, forensics, plasma balls, smoke cannons and even slime-making. It sounds messy but it is definitely brain-enriching. Lab coats are provided but science can be dirty work so old clothes are recommended, as are rain gear, a packed lunch, and sun hat and sunscreen. The week-long camps cost €140 per child, with sibling discounts available.
The wonderful Ark in Temple Bar, Dublin, will hold two five-day animation workshops: Intro to Animation (11-15 July and 25-29 July) and Making the Film (8-12 Aug). Aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds, the courses will introduce children to the wonders of animation and filmmaking. The five-day course costs €150.
The Ark is also holding a variety of one-day workshops over the course of the summer, with activities suitable for two-year-olds up to 12-year-olds. It is also running an exhibition all summer giving a behind-the-scenes look at the Oscar-nominated animation Song of the Sea.
Imaginosity – Dublin’s children’s museum – is hosting a series of themed, week-long summer camps in July and August.
Themes for the camps – aimed at five- to six-year-olds – include Star Wars, Elves & Fairies, Frozen Fever, Science, CSI and Magic.
Star Wars, Science, CSI and Magic are also themes of the camps for seven- to eight-year-olds, with Descendants and Engineering also to be among the themes covered.
The costs of the camps range from €120 to €135, with discounts available for siblings. If you don’t want to book your kids in for a week, day rates are also a possibility.
Imaginosity says its camps will be filled with arts, crafts, music and science experiments, with campers also having supervised ‘free play’ time during their camp days to explore Imaginosity.
Summer camp image via Shutterstock