Calling all inventors. The Edison and Ford Winter Estates hosts one- and five-day STEAM programs for science and engineering enthusiasts. Kids can study the solar system, build and launch a rocket ship; design, build and code a robot; and explore chemical reactions with hands-on experiments. “We want our students to experience the whole process of invention, from beginning to end,” Pearce Augustenborg, education coordinator at the Estates, says.
The camps are designed to inspire kids to pursue “chasing that interesting idea”—like former resident and revered inventor, Thomas Edison, would do. “Edison was always curious,” Augustenborg says. “That’s why he got up early and stayed up late. Ideas were like a book he couldn’t put down.”
Among the many unique offerings, the renewable energy camp debuting this summer stands out. In it, students learn to generate electricity using sustainable solar panels, hydropower and windmills. The program begins with a lesson on building a basic light circuit using solar power; by the end, they’ll be building Innovation City, a model city completely powered by renewable energy. “We want our students to have personal agency as they solve problems,” Augustenborg says. “Our hope is that campers walk away saying, ‘I discovered something,’ not ‘I was taught something.”
More Ways to Learn
Kids develop new skills and pursue budding passions through these hands-on programs.
Little fashionistas explore the finer points of style during Lilly Pulitzer Fashion Camp, a week-long program that sells out every year at Waterside Shops. Kids learn about fashion, etiquette and printmaking—plus pointers on walking the runway. Open to girls in third through eighth grade, the program runs for two hours each morning and wraps with a fashion show for the parents with the girls as the stars.
Chefs-in-training love Quality Thyme Meals Dinner Club that runs for five weeks after school and teaches cooking basics. Little ones make fun recipes, like Korean noodle stir fry and Thai curry, and—good news for busy parents—they leave every class with a ready-to-eat meal that serves four. Open to ages 7 to 14.
The Sanibel Sea School’s Summer Camps are offered on the island for Sea Squirts (ages 4 to 6), Island Explorers (ages 6 to 13) and Teens (ages 13 to 17). Each five-day experience concentrates on one of the Gulf’s majestic creatures—loggerhead turtles, octopus, rays and snowy plovers, to name a few.
Lovers Key State Park’s Eco-Arts Summer Camp is tailor-made for mini-ecologists with creative streaks. The 712-acre park’s five-day program teaches environmental stewardship through mornings spent outdoors exploring the pristine beaches and mangroves of Lovers Key. Afternoon lessons take place inside (in the air conditioning!), where they dabble in the arts—drawing, painting and storytelling focusing on local ecology.