Courtesy TechSmart Kids
Summer is an ideal time for kids to explore the world outside the walls of school, including diving into the depths of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Thanks to an incredible number of pioneering summer camps in the greater Seattle area, kids as young as preschoolers can learn more about STEM in fun, welcoming environments.
These programs will take your kids to the stars or to the bottom of the ocean, start them on the path to computer programming, teach them how to make a movie on the family computer, and even take STEM learning outside in the sun to explore science and nature.
Little learners can get their hands on engineering and science projects even before they start elementary school, thanks to the Science Explorers camps at KidsQuest. Preschool- and school-age kids can join the science fun at KidsQuest's STEAM Camps, held at Bear Creek School in Redmond, learning all sorts of 21st century skills.
Ages: 3 and older
Cost: $225 per week for half-day; $425 per week for full-day (member discounts available)
Challenge Island is part STEM, part Survivor, and all fun. Campers split into tribes to complete a series of challenges. Themes range from Minecraft to Star Wars. Camps are offered in mulitple locations around greater Seattle and the Eastside.
Cost: Varies by host organization and length of camp-day
Pacific Science Center has dozens and dozens of exciting programs planned for summer. Camps are held at nine locations, including Seattle and the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center in Bellevue. Camp topics range from preschool science experiments to a robot workshop to spy science, one of the most popular camps at PSC.
Ages: pre-K through Grade 8
Cost: Prices vary by age, length and theme; member discounts available.
Kid Science Labs, a new science enrichment center in Seattle's Green Lake neigborhood, offers hands-on innovation camps focused on science and design; with no tech in sight, kids get to build, experiment, invent and innovate. Current themes span engineering, biology, art, design and more.
Cost: Prices vary; check website for details.
Bricks 4 Kidz offers summer camps for LEGO enthusiasts at multiple Seattle-area locations. Camp themes range from "Jurassic World" to "Pokemon."
Ages: 5 and older
Cost: $275 and up
These camps, held in locations including Renton, Redmond and Kent, use LEGO to foster skills in building, robotics, remote control techniques and stop-motion animation with iPads. Themes range from Space Explorers to PokeMania Robotics.
Cost: $200/week for half-day, $400/week for full-day (early bird discount pricing available)
These camps get kids as young as 5 started in coding with Little Coders camps. Kids build skills and uncover creativity under the guidance of instructors, progressing to levels of Game Development and Web Development. Camps meet in multiple Seattle, Tacoma and Eastside locations.
Cost: Prices start around $279 and vary by age and camp length.
These camps — in more than a dozen Seattle and Eastside-area locations — give kids a chance to train like astronauts, build robots and other gadgets, join a crime scene investigation team and more during a fun-filled week.
Ages: grades K–6
Cost: $399 per week (early bird pricing available)
The Seattle Aquarium offers a full roster of marine science summer camps where campers investigate the ocean depths with underwater exploration tools and experiments. Camp topics for different ages range from marine mammal science to sharks and fish friends.
Ages: grades K–8
Cost: Half-day camps start at $137.50; member discounts available.
10. Museum of Flight's Aerospace Camp Experience
These camps focus on all things aviation, aerospace and outer space. If your young flyers love engineering, they can explore topics ranging from building robots to the principles of aerodynamics and space flight.
Ages: grades K–5
Cost: Half-day camps start at $205; full-day camps start around $330. Member discounts available
The Digital Media Academy offers a range of camps on topics such as art and digital photography and 3D game design for younger campers, up to camps on robotics and programming to game development and filmmaking for older campers. Camps meet on the University of Washington campus and campers can attend as day campers or stay overnight (ages 12–18) on campus for an additional fee.
Cost: Prices vary by age and camp; check website for details.
12. iD Tech Camps
iD Tech camps in Seattle, Bellevue, Bothell and Tacoma give future computer science students experience on a university or independent school campus. Technology camp topics include web design, coding and more.
Cost: Varies; check website for details.
13. Camp Invention
Camp Invention is a nonprofit enrichment program created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame that has campers engage in team creative problem-solving using STEM concepts. Camp Invention offers various camps around a central theme that changes each year. Camps are held at elementary schools around the Sound.
Ages: grades K–6
Cost: Prices vary.
14. Girls Rock Math
These camps in Seattle and Eastside locations have campers investigating and using math in fun and creative ways, including exercises in writing and art. Many GRM camps also get participants outdoors in the summer sunshine to find patterns, symmetry and math concepts in nature.
Ages: grades 1–6
Cost: Most camps are around $300 but vary by location; check website for specific prices.
UW offers an incredible catalog of STEM camps for summer, including camps for middle schoolers and high schoolers possibly not found anywhere else in Seattle. Tweens and teens can study a range of topics, from green energy to engineering and design.
Ages: grades 1–12
Cost: Prices vary by age, topic and length of camp session.
These Redmond-based workshops give a wide age range of kids the chance to explore game development, animation, robotics and more. Even first graders can learn game development skills with camps investigating how video games are made.
Ages: grades 1–12
Cost: $699 per one-week session; early bird and other discounts available.
17. Mad Science
Mad Science partners with schools and community centers to offer hands-on science experiments in camps that gets kids digging chemistry, robots and engineering. Camps meet in multiple locations including Bellevue, Sammamish, Edmonds, Bothell, Kirkland and all over Seattle.
Cost: Prices vary by host location and length of camp day
TechVenture invites kids obsessed with Minecraft to learn to code with Minecraft. TechVenture Kids' other camps cover digital photography, coding, robotics and more. Camps meet in multiple locations on the Eastside.
Ages: 5 and older
Cost: Pricing starts at $270, with most averaging at $285
19. Creative Coding
These camps focus on a creative, fun approach to coding, along with encouraging kids to develop persistence by working through hitches in their ideas. This camp also promotes coding as a great form of "brain exercise." Camps are offered in three Seattle locations and Bellevue College for morning or afternoon half-day sessions. Morning and afternoon sessions can be combined to make a full-day camp, with lunch time spent outside as weather permits.
Ages: grades 1–6
Cost: $238 and up
20. Camp TechWise
Offered in three Seattle locations and a Bellevue location, Camp TechWise offers camps for kids ages 8-16. Campers enroll in a primary project (eg, video, music or gaming), but are able to drop in and out of secondary workshops such as programming, 3-D modeling, animation and gaming. Time for outdoor recreation and sports is also included.
Cost: $500 with early bird discounts available.
These camps involve kids in science and design challenges centered around race car drivers and their equipment. Campers practice skills in the LeMay racing simulators and slot car track. A team race takes place on the final day of camp.
Ages: grades 4–9
Cost: Stay tuned for 2018 details.
22. Camp BIOmed
High schoolers can explore bioengineering and biotechnology with hands-on camps in Seattle. Topics include crime scene investigation, DIY science lab and bioinformatics.
Ages: grades 9–12
Cost: $675 per week with early registration and other discounts available.
Part of Microsoft’s diversity initiative, this is a free program for high school girls to spend a week with technology professionals. Participants connect with Microsoft employees and participate in interactive workshops to explore future careers in technology. Check the website for more info.
Ages: grades 9–12
24. Girls Who Code
This immersion program in Seattle invites teen girls who are considering a future in computer programming to apply for this free, seven-week program that teaches the basics of computer science. The program encourages girls through mentorship by women working in the field.
Ages: grades 11–12
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2016 and updated for 2018.