It feels like my daughter spends a lot of time at school… that will soon become very apparent when she’s under my feet for ten weeks. Yes, the summer break is upon us, and I’ve been sitting down to consider how on Earth I’m going to keep her occupied. The first couple of summer breaks I had as a SAHM I never even thought about science camp, or any other camp for that matter. We had just moved from England to Texas, so in true expat style we spent everyday swimming. Elsie literally couldn’t get enough of it, and it was a skill I was desperate for her to learn. However, with the twins in tow, swimming is no longer the relaxing option it used to be; and I would highly recommend having more than one adult present when swimming with two toddlers. So what am I going to do with her? Last year I didn’t really think about it… she got bored, I sent her to activity camp last minute, and she knocked her two front teeth out in the first week in a freak accident. My small experience with summer camp didn’t gone well; so this year I decided to give it more thought.

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The Importance of ‘Progress’ and Champagne

We had teacher conferences last week. Following on from our last teacher conference experience, I’m afraid to report that both our organizational skills still need working on. Results are good though… can you believe we have to discuss results when talking about a seven year old? As a teacher myself, I feel a little despondent looking at the piece of paper printed with numbers; I’m supposed to impressed with Elsie’s ‘progress’. She was a 4.2, but she’s now a 5.5… oh fabulous, crack open the champagne. I wonder sometimes whether my British sarcasm comes across properly in my writing… just to make it crystal clear, these numbers mean nothing. 

Before I go on a total rant about the state of the education system on both sides of the Atlantic, I will reign myself back in and just highlight this point:

Data collected by the National Survey of Science and Math Education indicates that “just sixteen minutes per day in the typical K–3 classroom are dedicated to social studies, with just nineteen minutes earmarked for science.” (Michael Petrilli, edexellence.net)

I’m getting a little tired of hearing about ‘progress’ in reading and maths. I know very well how my daughter is progressing in these subjects, thanks to the utterly tedious and soul destroying homework that is delivered in her backpack every week. But how are her problem solving skills? How is her ability to develop questions, work as a team and evaluate her own progress? Is curiosity in the world around her growing? Does she know how to explore her observations and share them with others? Does she understand the application of her knowledge, or is the weekly maths and spelling test just being banked in the ‘boring school work’ compartment in her brain? 

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Why Science Camp?

This, along with the squealing of excitement when I suggested it, is why Elsie is going to Science camp this summer. Science as a subject incorporates plenty of reading, writing and mathematics… so don’t worry, that 5.2 will survive unscathed, despite getting involved in activities beyond the all important Common Core. Science is more valued than it used to be; the push for Engineers seems to be working, although I do wish other science careers would be sold to kids too. Are my kids going to be competing in an oversaturated market when graduating with their Engineering degree, because it’s the career buzz word of their generation? Engineering, and Snap Chat… they both seem to be doing well with the kids these days.

I do hope people will start to think outside the box a little, and truly understand the purpose of scientific thinking. When I studied for my PGCE I was shown ‘Shift Happens’ in my opening lecture. It has stuck with me since, and I think of it often. It’s a little old now, which is ironic given the content, but I continue to find it inspiring. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you watch it now… I hope you get from it what I did:

The key point for me is that we are teaching children for jobs that don’t even exist yet. We cannot possibly imagine what wacky jobs are going to be out there when they graduate, so lets focus on inspiring, and building the confidence to seek out new knowledge.

What Can We Do at Home?

Many schools offer science camp over the summer for a sensible price. Many external companies also run camps which can get expensive but involve a lot of equipment, specialized teaching and supervision, so can be justified in their budget. There are also plenty of activities you can do at home with your kids to encourage critical thinking and scientific values. Elsie will be doing a couple of weeks at official science camp, and I also plan to get stuck into some fun at home. Watch this space, I’ll come back next month with an activity to share, in the meantime here’s some resources to get your creative juices flowing:

And if you’re in the market for some science kits, here are my favorite picks:

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8 Comments

  1. I was a teacher for 13 years and I so agree with you that there is too much focus on assessing kids and not enough enrichment. I had a parent-teacher conference with a report card for my three year old last year. I mean, come on, he’s three. Science Camp sounds wonderful. If we had one in my area, I would definitely consider it! Thanks for your post and great idea!

    • TwinPickle Reply

      Thanks for reading Sarah! And ??? to the three year old report card!

  2. Science camp is a great idea. I think it’s very important for kids to learn new things while they are having fun.

    • TwinPickle Reply

      Exactly. Learning and fun should be the same thing!

  3. katrina gehman Reply

    i think camp is great as long as the kid wants to go. you can make friends for a lifetime and also learn so much. science camp actually sounds fun.

  4. angela milnes Reply

    I love the ideas of Science Camp and it’s so great for them to learn new things.

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