School might be out for summer, but learning is still on at the Talcott Mountain Science Center. From robotics and coding to wild weather lessons, the Summer of STEM Adventures Program has students learning and active all summer long.
“The students [in this room] are working on mind storm robotics to try and solve some problems using robotics,” John Pellino explained as kids from kindergarten through third grade worked feverishly behind him.
Pellino started at Talcott Mountain Science Academy in sixth grade and is now the associate director of the Talcott Mountain Science Center Academy. Both he and the summer program have come a long way!
“It sort of makes sure you’ve got a continuum of learning and critical thinking and questioning,” Pellino said. “And asking all the questions you want to ask in a different setting.”
The program started in 1969 with a dozen kids. Now there’s room for 600 students. The program is offered week by week for eight weeks, offering a wide variety of different courses. There’s even a “Girls Rock” course just for young female scientists.
“I think a big part of it is building confidence,” Brigette Zacharczenko, a science teacher at the Talcott Mountain Science Center Academy, said. “And showing the girls that it’s OK to be interested in all different parts of sciences.”
It’s all about striking the balance between learning and fun.
“By mixing in a lot of the crafty things and the games and the fun stuff, hopefully, it will stick a little more and it won’t feel so much like school either,” Zacharczenko explained.
“I think being more hands-on helps me remember a little more and it makes it a lot more fun,” Cassidy, a program participant, said.
Earlier this week, the girls collected lake water, examined it under a microscope, and made some interesting discoveries.
“I looked up close and I didn’t know if it was a tadpole,” participant Rhaedyn said. “But I looked and tadpoles have blue eyes. ‘Just like you!’ Maybe I’m a tadpole!”
Budding scientists can also visit the Connecticut Science Center. While their camps are on pause for another year, the science center has made some big adjustments just in time for summer.
“We recently rededicated our outdoor plaza and garden area just to add more space, more interactive elements and just it’s an extension of our galleries,” Tracy Shirer, vice president of marketing and communications for the Connecticut Science Center, said. “We’ll offer outdoor programming and entertainment throughout the summer.”
Another big draw this summer is the Dinosaurs Around the World exhibition where visitors can interact with a dozen life-size replicas of real dinosaurs based on scientific evidence.