Ten summer science camps—try saying that 10 times fast! Or you could stop muttering to yourself and just check out our top 10 picks for great STEM and science-focused camps around the Los Angeles area. We've collected a variety of local STEM summer camps for kids—indoor, outdoor, animal-driven, coding, game design, biology, and robot-driven—all of which have been test-driven by parents we trust.
But if your children's summer cannot live by science alone, check out the Los Angeles art, cooking, horse, and classic outdoorsy camps in our Summer Camp Guide and Directory!
1. California Science Center – Los Angeles
9am-3pm (half day & extended care options, too)
Not surprisingly, the California Science Center offers the ultimate summer science camps for LA area kids. More than 25 courses are available on topics that include robotics, wizardry, outer space, skate science, pirate science, 3-D animation, and movie special effects along with the classic biology, chemistry, and physics offerings. Camps range from preschool parent-child classes through mind-blowingly amazing eighth grade explorations.
2. Kidspace Children's Museum – Pasadena
Ages 6-9 (4 - 5 for the "Little Learners" session only)
9am-5pm (half days and full days available)
Kidspace takes the "museum" part of its name to heart and makes sure that each week of camp is packed with educational opportunities. This summer's topics include Amazing Animals, Mystery Detectives, and Bug Band. Kidspace promises to send your kid home knowing the meaning of E=mc².
3. Santa Monica Pier Aquarium – Santa Monica
9am-12pm or 9am-2pm
Heal the Bay runs a Science Adventure Camp at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium that offers a hands-on, science-based, environmentally conscious learning experience right at the beach. Kids spend part of the day observing, handling, and learning about all sorts of marine life in the lab, and part of the day outside finding where science meets surf. Other activities include games, crafts, puppet shows, and kissing sea cucumbers. The first three weeks may be booked by the week only; the last week can be booked by the day. No before or after care is available, but when you pick up - you've got the Pier and the beach!
4. Aquarium of the Pacific Summer Camp – Long Beach
8am-5pm (full and half day options available)
Kids can explore the Pacific ocean and its inhabitants during three-day and week-long day camps at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Campers of different ages participate in different class programs, with all getting behind-the-scenes opportunities to help care for and feed the marine life and learn about water quality. Little ones ages three to four attend with a parent. The aquarium also offers a sleepover camp for teens in August.
5. Ocean Institute – Dana Point
How lucky are our kids that so much Southern Californian science happens at the beach? The Ocean Institute is right in the thick of things, with camps that explore marine biology both in the lab and at sea - from plankton to whales and everything in between. Older kids even get a chance to build and operate underwater ROVs. The Institute's camp programs include day, weekly, and overnight options. Older teens (14-17) can participate in the marine science careers internship program.
6. Los Angeles Zoo Summer ZooCamp – Los Angeles
9pm-3pm (extended care available)
LA Zoo's annual summer camp intermingles classic summertime activities, crafts, and games with behind-the-scenes exploration that inspires caring for animals and the environment. Each camp focuses on a different group of animals, with themes like reptiles, primates, and - for older kids - wildlife photography.
7. Rolling Robots – Glendale or Rolling Hill Estates
10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm
One of those camps with a name that says it all, Rolling Robots offers different levels of technical challenge for different ages. Littlest kids get started experimenting with electronics, while older kids get to design robots and program them, finishing the week with the ability to build competition-level robots on their own - ready to take over this world or another of their choosing.
8. Robotics and Things – Agoura Hills
Mon, Wed, & Fri 9am-3:30pm
Robotics and Things offers a summer of the ROBOTIX Experience, in which campers use California Science Standards to create robots, robotic creatures, and robotic vehicles. The curriculum, developed in cooperation with Caltech/JPL, lets kids who fantasize about building robots live out their fantasies, applying science, math, and engineering principles to intricate robotics kits that leave LEGOs (much as we love them) in the dust.
9. Mad Science – LA and Orange County
9am-3pm (varies by location)
Mad Science is a national company offering summer science camps in a wide variety of locations around Southern California, including LA and Orange County. Serving so many different communities means that the prices and curricula vary quite a bit, but the theme that runs throughout is having fun with science in local community venues at reasonable prices. Individual camp weeks include Secret Agent Lab; Claws, Codes, & Constellations; Red Hot Robots; NASA Space Academy, and Crazy Chemworks.
10. Camp Tech Revolution at UCLA – Los Angeles
Run by Lavner Camps on the UCLA campus, this summer tech camp allows kids to choose a different major and minor each week (just like some college kids). Options include robotics, game design, model rocketry, computer programming, web design, 3-D printing, Minecraft, and cybersecurity. Your kids could come out of a week of camp and be the solution to your home network woes!
Originally published March 20, 2012