STEMpower

The Science of Summer Camps

Summer season 2015 is approaching quickly and parents are seeking summer solutions to fill the school gap. What many parents don’t realize is what their children will lose during these months of Summer fun. Studies show that a lack of educational stimulation during a break leads to lower test scores, lessened mental retention and on average kids perform one month behind where they left off in the grade before (Cooper, Nye, Charlton, Lindsay, Greathouse, 1996). However, there is a simple solution to this loss - educational summer camps! Summer camps with academic base allow students to continue learning during the off-months, which leads to better learning retention, increased STEM career pathways and offer a variety of subject exposure in a flexible learning environment. In combination, these benefits prepare students for each upcoming school year.

Learning retention is directly related to student’s achievement levels, grade to grade. By filling the summer gap with educational pastimes, such as academic camps, over time it increases their overall retention and therefore overall performance year to year. Additionally, the students which don’t engage in summer academics lose more ground in math than reading skills. Summer vacation is equivalent to an entire month of instructional time and is the perfect time to supplement students education - especially when it comes to STEM topics (Cooper et. al., 1996).

While the benefits of summer education opportunities for students are vast, one important aspect is what they introduce students to, which they may never have had the opportunity to explore. The prevalence of STEM-related career fields has been steadily growing, and is expected to skyrocket in the near future with the emergence of a new technology-driven society. Introducing students to the possibilities of STEM careers at a young age is pertinent to encourage upcoming generations to pursue such fields. Professing interest in STEM careers by 8th grade is a more accurate predictor of getting a science-related college degree than test scores in math and science. (4) Additionally, those students who had more opportunities to participate in STEM learning were more likely to follow STEM career pathways and excel in them. Not only do academic summer camps provide opportunities for students to explore STEM, but they provide a variety of learning exposures in a comfortable and flexible learning environment (Krishnamurthi, Ottinger, Topol, 2010).

Overall, the impact of extracurricular activities, such as STEM centric summer camps, reflects positively in academic performance, mental retention abilities, the pursuance of STEM careers, and much more.

 

References

Cooper, H., Nye, B., Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., & Greathouse, S. (1996). The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: A Narrative and Meta-Analytic Review. American Educational Research Association. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1170523

 

Krishnamurthi, A., Ottinger, R., & Topol, T. (2010). STEM Learning in Afterschool and Summer Programming: An Essential Strategy for STEM Education Reform. Retrieved from http://www.expandinglearning.org/expandingminds/article/stem-learning-afterschool-and-summer-programming-essential-strategy-stem  

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