Surrounded as we are by so many tech start-ups, a world-class science museum, and some of the top college computer-science departments in the country, it's no surprise that many of our kids are fascinated by all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Luckily, a growing number of tech-minded summer camps are cropping up all over the region to meet demand, and the options for local kids range from a program for wannabe inventors to a science immersion program just for girls. We’ve rounded up a dozen great school vacation programs where kids can tinker, make, build, code, invent, and experiment. Read on to find one that’s a good fit for your Junior Einstein, and sign up soon—early-bird specials are widely available this month, and some of these camps fill up fast. And if your kids are itching for some STEM fun in the meantime, check out these brain-building boredom busters especially suited to cooler weather.
Camp Invention - multiple locations
Ages: Grades 1-6
Local schools host the Camp Invention program, and the week's hands-on activities are led by area teachers. Children rotate through four modules each day, each of which encourages working in diverse teams, engaging in investigations, and taking on engineering challenges that combine science, technology, engineering, and math. Week-long sessions take place throughout the summer, beginning in late June.
Locations and registration: There are 18 local schools participating, and more could be added; campinvention.org
Empow Studios - multiple locations
Ages: Grades 2-7
For kids between 7 and 13 years old, Empow Summer Workshop is a place to make videos and animations, learn to code, make video games, build robots, and try out digital design and music throughout the summer. Focus on one technology of particular interest, complete mini-projects with each new technology, or combine several disciplines into one epic project. Empow also offers a wide variety of Minecraft-inspired activities, starting with an exploration of electrical circuits and continuing with key concepts related to electrical engineering and architecture.
Locations and registration: Camps sessions are available in Back Bay, Belmont, Brookline Cape Cod, Lexington, Newton-Needham, and Westford; empow.me
Einstein's Workshop - Burlington
Ages: Grades K-9
Einstein's Workshop summer classes teach the fundamentals, from Newtonian physics to electrical engineering to programming robots, providing a foundation for STEM fluency. Topics kids can explore this summer include 3-D printing, Minecraft, programming, robotics and hands-on science. There are options for morning, afternoon, or full-day programs during July and August, and sign-ups begin in mid- to late-February. Want to know more? Read our review of Einstein's Workshop.
Location and registration: 25 Adams Street, Burlington; Sign-ups begin in mid- to late-February at einsteinworkshop.com
Kids 4 Coding - Cambridge and Brookline
Based in Atlanta and Boston, Kids 4 Coding programs focus on familiarizing children to a wide range of cutting-edge technologies. Along with sessions devoted to programming and game design, there are weeks when kids can build and code drones, design homes and structures with 3-D computer programs, or parlay a Minecraft obsession into practical skills. A "Minecraft Gets Real" session encourages students to make improvements to actual structures in their communities. Camp offerings run from July 3-Aug. 18.
Locations and registration: Sherrill Library, Cambridge; Newbury College, Brookline; kids4coding.com
i2 Camp - West Roxbury
A co-ed summer day camp held in late June through July, i2 offers middle schoolers a broad range of fun, hands-on courses across STEM disciplines, designed to give students experiences they wouldn't get in traditional classrooms. Course offerings, which are designed in close partnership with MIT, Bose, and other STEM organizations, cover topics in engineering, genetics, robotics, nanotechnology, mathematics, and even ecology.
Location and registration: The Roxbury Latin School, 101 St. Theresa Ave., West Roxbury; i2camp.org
The Advent School Engineering and Design Summer Program - Beacon Hill
Founded in collaboration with MIT's D-Lab, Advent's "Dream, Design, Discover" program specializes in hands-on experiences focusing on the principles of engineering and design. There are three two-week-long sessions in late June through early August, each revolving around a specific theme, from "pedal power" to "wind+water."
Location and registration: The Advent School, 15 Brimmer St., Boston; adventschool.org/programs/summer-program
STEM in the City Summer Camp - Fenway
Ages: Grades 8-9
Home base for STEM in the City Summer Camp is the Department of Mathematics and Science on Wheelock College's Boston campus. Campers for the full-day camp, which takes place from July 17-28 this year, will meet at Wheelock and be introduced to a STEM topic. Daily activities then include field trips, led by STEM professionals, and hands-on activities that relate to the field experience. Campers eat lunch (included in camp tuition) at or near the site, then return to Wheelock, where they will explore a variety of careers and the educational pathways needed to attain those careers.
Location and registration: Wheelock College, 200 Riverway, Boston; wheelock.edu
LINX EPIC Science Camp - Wellesley/Weston
Ages: Grades K-8
The EPIC science program (pictured), held from July through early August, is designed with a variety of hands-on experiments and demonstrations in physics, engineering, chemistry, biology, electronics, and astronomy. Each week campers use the scientific method to uncover the mysteries of the world around them. They are placed in age appropriate groups to foster friendships and to make use of advanced learning methods. Based on age, science campers spend a set number of hours studying science and have lunch, bonus periods, and swim time.
Locations and registration: Dana Hall, 45 Dana Road, Wellesley; Regis College, 235 Wellesley Street, Weston; linxcamps.com (bus transportation available)
GreenApple Campus - Financial District and Needham
Ages: Grades K-8
GreenApple is a nonprofit organization that offers creative and challenging STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) enrichment programs utilizing robotics, coding, Minecraft, AR & VR, app and game design, tinkering, and maker programming in the "Fab Lab." Campers work independently, in small groups and on teams for different activities throughout the sessions; week-long options start in late June and continue through mid-August.
Locations and registration: CIC Boston, 50 Milk Street, Boston; Olin College, 1000 Olin Way, Needham; greenapplecampus.org
Emagination Computer Camps - Newton
Emagination blends technology learning with fun activities to create a well rounded summer camp experience. Two-week sessions from late June to early August give campers time to make friends, build self-confidence and be part of a community while learning new technology skills. Day and overnight sessions are available.
Locations and registration: Boston College, 885 Centre Street, Newton; Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill; computercamps.com
iD Tech Camps - Beverly, Cambridge, Needham
iD Tech Camps strike a balance between off-computer activities (creative games, sports, life skills, etc.) and tech education to foster STEM skill development. Kids can develop apps, learn coding, design and create video games, develop websites, produce movies, build robots, and more. "Tech Mini" programs are available for children as young as 6. Older kids can choose between day and overnight options from late June through early August.
Locations and registration: Endicott College, Beverly; MIT and Harvard University, Cambridge; Olin College of Engineering, Needham; idtech.com
Science Camp for Girls - Cambridge
Ages: Girls in grades 4-9
Campers for this day camp, held from July 31-Aug. 4 this year, choose their "Science Major": marine science or engineering (grades 4-6) and astronomy or marine biology (grades 7-8). The session includes plenty of experiments and instruction, as well as the opportunity for informal science learning and leadership development through workshops, experiments and recreational activities.
Location and registration: MIT, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
Looking for more summer camp options? Bookmark our Summer Camp Guide and check back often; we are continually updating and adding options for kids in the city and beyond.
Photo courtesy of LINX Camps
Post originally published 4/2012 and updated 4/2013, 4/2014 by Audrey T.; revised 1/2015 by Tara D; revised 2/2017 by Kelley Heyworth