Summer is in full swing, and between family vacations and summer camps you might find your budget stretched a little thin for extra activities.
But exploring science, math, engineering and technology doesn’t have to be put on hold, thanks to these fun and free (!) summer programs in the Seattle area.
Tip: Some are already full, so be sure to bookmark this article or the program for next year. (Did we miss a free STEM summer program? Email email@example.com.)
Maker online camp
Google and Make have teamed up for an online camp to get kids 13-18 building, breaking, creating, going on virtual field trips, and more this summer. Maker Camp kicked off on Google+ on July 7 and runs through August 15, with themes for each week of camp including games, science, design and more.
For kids who don’t have access to the Internet or would like to team up to take part in the fun, local Maker Camp events can also be found at several Seattle locations, including the SoDo MakerSpace FabLab, Jigsaw Renaissance, and the Filipino Community of Seattle’s Tech and Media Center.
Every summer, Apple stores across the country offer free three-day workshops in technology for kids ages 8 to 12 to create their own movies and iBooks. All Seattle-area camps for 2014 are full, but some stores offer waiting lists for registration, so try your luck on the Bellevue Square and University Village web sites.
Microsoft Store YouthSpark summer camps
Microsoft Stores also offer free weekly in-store camps for kids 8 and up to learn about game design, movie making, coding and more. Microsoft Stores even provide short “parent camps” so that adults can learn alongside their kids during the camps. Registration for many of the camps has closed, but you can apply for a waiting list or check out some of the store’s other offerings for technology education.
Imagine Cup Day
You’ll find all sorts of STEM fun on Saturday, August 2 at the Museum of History and Industry during Imagine Cup Day. Not only is MOHAI opening its doors with no admission for the entire day, kids can get up close and personal with science through hands-on experiments hosted by Mad Science.
The entire family will also enjoy browsing the amazing creations of the innovative Imagine Cup teams, entering a Lotus F1 simulator and grabbing a snack or two — all for free.
The Seattle CoderDojo runs free coding programs for kids ages 8–17 year-round, with several opportunities this summer to get kids interested in programming. Seattle CoderDojo is currently planning meet-ups for kids and parents at Amazon and DigiPen in July and August before returning to a weekly schedule in the fall. Events are free, but parents must register and get tickets for their mini-programmers ahead of time.
Lakewood Pierce County library also hosts a CoderDojo program for kids ages 12-17 on Mondays in July and August from 5:30–7:30 p.m.
STEM library programs
Seattle Public Library's Summer of Learning
The Seattle Public Library is offering an incredible number of Zone In! summer learning events through August 31 for kids and teens at locations across Seattle. Check the calendar for free concerts, LEGO building challenges, catapult designing, labs and more, all with a science theme.
A few highlights include:
- Hands-On Weird Science, Southwest Branch, July 11
- Crafty Science Lab, Magnolia Branch, July 17
- Construction Extravaganza, Central Library, July 31
- Mathblast!, Central Library, August 2
And thanks to Pacific Science Center, you can even find suggested activities to tackle together at home this summer.
King County Library's programs for kids
The King County Library System’s summer reading program, Fizz Boom Read, brings music, magic, juggling and more with a STEM theme to branches around the Puget Sound area. Highlights include:
- The Fantastical Magical Math Spell, Kent Library, July 24
- Optical Marvels: They Do It with Mirrors, Algona-Pacific Library, August 8
- Candy Experiments Show, Library Connection @ Southcenter, July 16
- Yes, It Is Rocket Science!, Burien Library, July 22
Registration is required for some events in advance, so take a look at the events calendar for your local branch before heading out. And, of course, all events are offered at no cost.
King County Library's Programs for Teens
Spark a Reaction, the KCLS summer program for teens, is just as exciting as their kids’ lineup. Not only are there some sensational STEM opportunities, such as building robots and gazing at the night sky of a portable planetarium, teens can also learn outdoor awareness skills, how to make a zine and how to create a watercolor nature journal.
- Robot Garage, Auburn Library, July 15
- The Night Sky: Portable Planetarium Show, Des Moines Library and Kent Library, August 5
- Wilderness Adventures: Bird Language, Woodinville Library, July 21
Pierce County Library’s summer Lego programs
The Pierce County Library is offering free Lego construction activities for kids 5 and up this summer. Kids can get their hands on the library’s Lego bricks in the Lego & Building Madness events, and 8-to-18-year-olds can engineer a working robot with the Mindstorms kit in locations across Pierce County.
- Lego & Building Madness, South Hill Library, August 20
- Lego Mindstorms, Gig Harbor Library, July 23 and August 27
Pierce County Library’s summer reading programs
The Pierce County Library is also offering a wide variety of events and activities this summer, many of which have a STEM focus. Kids who attend Pierce County Library events will have the chance to meet an animal from the Point Defiance Zoo, become “rock” stars by learning about geology, build and launch paper rockets and more. Check your local branch for more times and details. Highlights include:
- Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium presentation, Bonney Lake Library, July 31
- Passport to Professions: Computer Engineer, Lakewood Library, August 8
- Flying Straw-cers, Stellacoom Library, August 6