Choose from a wide range of STEAM programs during the STEAM Matters summer programs. Photo courtesy of the NYC DOE
Choose from a wide range of STEAM programs during the STEAM Matters summer programs. Photo courtesy of the NYC DOE

NYC Opens Applications For FREE Summer STEAM Programs

New York City has opened applications for its Summer STEAM program, which includes FREE STEAM summer camps for elementary school students and hands-on courses for high schoolers. Don't delay: Applications for all programs are due Friday, April 23, 2021. The popular annual summer day camps are available to NYC kids entering grades 1-12 in September.

The programs occur at more than a dozen popular NYC institutions known for STEAM programming, including zoos, museums, and botanical gardens. Public, charter, and home school students in NYC may all apply.

The camps run in July and August in one-week intervals, while high school courses run for 1-2 weeks. Read on for full details on each program.

Students in the one-week STEAM Matters camps are placed at institutions all over the city, including the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Prospect Park Zoo, Staten Island Zoo, Staten Island Museum, New-York Historical Society, the Genovesi Environmental Study Center, Forest Park, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and MakerSpace NYC.

The NYC Department of Education describes activities, dates, and appropriate grade levels for each camp, which enroll children entering grades 1-9, on its STEAM Matters page. Little learners can explore programs like "The Fast and the Furriest" at the Prospect Park Zoo, tweens can become junior zoologists with the Genovesi Environmental Study Center, and incoming high schoolers can choose from Gravity Camp, Wildlife Protectors, and more. Most of the camps begin at 9am and end at 3pm.

RELATED: FREE and Cheap Summer Camps for NYC Kids


Interact with the animals at various zoo-hosted camps! Photo by Julie Larsen Maher for WCS before the pandemic

Students are selected by lottery, and thousands of applications are expected for a small number of seats. Make sure your camper is with you when you're ready to apply; they must answer a couple of questions about why they're interested in a particular camp. Applicants are allotted only one week of camp to ensure more kids have the opportunity to attend.

Transportation is not provided, but MetroCards are available for students. Campers must bring their lunch and snacks. Daily health screenings are required for all campers, too.

Apply online by Friday, April 23, 2021. There is no fee to apply, and it took us about 20 minutes to complete our application. Questions should be directed to STEMMattersNYC@schools.nyc.gov.

In addition to the one-week camps, high school students entering grades 10-12 are eligible for 1-2 week courses. These programs utilize the same application but are not lottery-based. Instead, a committee reviews individual applications, grades, and even references.

Courses include a two-week Urban Farm Stewardship course with the Battery Conservancy, website and video game classes at the New-York Historical Society, hands-on glass-making workshops at Urban Glass, and more.

Need more summer enrichment options? Check out these other NYC STEM camps or peruse these other FREE or inexpensive NYC summer camps.

This story is updated annually.

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