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Summer science camps offer a welcome return to hands-on learning

Superior Science is hosting in-person summer camps throughout July and August giving youth an opportunity to learn about STEM while still practicing all public health guidelines

THUNDER BAY - For eight-year-old Kristina Paterson, being able to get back to one of her favourite summer camps can only be described with one word: awesome.

“I just think it’s amazing,” she said. “I’m just glad to be here. It’s awesome.”

Kristina is among more than 100 youth participating in Superior Science Summer Camps at Lakehead University, which are taking place throughout July and August.

Organizers with Superior Science were concerned the camps would not be able to go ahead this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the provincial government announced summer day camps could resume, and all health and safety measures are being followed.

“We are one of the only summer camps to be running in Thunder Bay, and the only science camp to our knowledge running in-person camps this year, due to COVID-19,” said Michael Coccimiglio, one of the directors with Superior Science. “We’ve put in a ton of different safety precautions.”

Throughout the summer, kids will participate in various STEM related activities, from biology to coding.

“We always try to focus on a wide range of activities,” Coccimiglio said. “So that can include biology, coding activities, chemistry activities, we go outside and go crayfish hunting. We try to do a bit of everything with the kids and encapsulate everything.”

“I think it’s important to encourage STEM at a young age because the world is always changing,” added Isabella Sgambelluri, a director with Superior Science. “It’s important to all them to explore different opportunities and allow them to be creative.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summer Camps had to limit the number of kids participating in order to allow for proper physical distancing.

During the camps, kids are separated into cohorts of no more than eight and two instructors.

According to Coccimiglio, they are at approximately 75 per cent capacity of 160 kids allowed to participate.

“I think there is a strong demand in Thunder Bay because there is so little childcare options right now because a lot of camps aren’t running and daycares are running at lower capacity, so we see the demand and we have the supply so I’m sure it will fill up by the end of the summer,” he said.

But for both instructors and kids, just being out of the house and doing some hands on learning is a welcome change from the previous few months.

“They have lots of energy,” Sgambelluri said. “I think they are really excited to be here and get out of the house and run around and learn some new STEM activities. They are really happy to be here.”

Just take it from Kristina, who has participated in Superior Science Summer Camps for the past three years, it is definitely awesome.

“It’s really fun here,” she said. “We get to go outside most of the time, then we get to learn, we get to make crafts. It’s really cool. I really like it here. This is my favourite summer camp.”

Registration is still open for Superior Science Summer Camps. For more information visit the Superior Science website. 

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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