UA day camps to extend past summer, focus on science of winter
Elementary students can explore the science of winter this holiday season with UA day camps.
The Flandrau Science Center and the UofA Bookstore are working together to provide day camps for students in grades K-5 this winter break. The camps, called UA Fusion Camps, focus on giving kids a fun experience with science.
Fusion Camps started four summers ago as a partnership between Flandrau, the bookstore and the Student Recreation Center, and were held at the Rec Center, said Jennifer Fields, education director at Flandrau.
After some changes at the Rec Center last summer, the camps were moved to Flandrau, Fields said.
This is the first year that Fusion Camps have extended beyond summer and to school breaks.
Jennifer Moore, children’s program coordinator at the bookstore, said the Fusion Camps have been expanding every year.
“We’re continuously growing, and part of our growth is branching out into camps that go on during breaks that elementary students have during the school year,” Moore said. “The winter camp is our first exploration into that.”
The experiments students will do at the WinterWONDERland Fusion Camps have a seasonal theme, Fields said, while still focusing on science.
“We always want to have a science theme, so we really came up with things like colds and flus and smell and ice and states of matter and weather,” Fields said. “But then we wanted to have some things that evoke the holidays just generally, so we have the toymaker’s apprentice and candy chemistry.”
Fusion Camp organizers looked for experiment ideas that would play off the children’s creativity and imagination, Moore said, adding that if she were a kid, her favorite would be the candy chemistry experiment.
“The idea of making candy and learning the science behind that, I think, is pretty exciting,” Moore said.
The counselors for Fusion Camps are UA students studying elementary education and science education. The Winter WONDERland camps are being staffed by counselors from the summer sessions, like Tim Knorr, an elementary education senior.
Knorr said his job is not only to watch the children, but also to make sure the experiments are safe and doable for the kids.
The Fusion Camps are a great opportunity for education majors to implement what they’re studying, Knorr said.
“When you put into place stuff that we’ve learned in the classroom at UA,” Knorr said, “it’s really great when you see those working and you’re making a real difference in these kids’ lives.”
Fields said the Fusion Camps are important because they let elementary students do hands-on experiments, an opportunity that is often missing from in-school education.
“I think that the sad reality in elementary schools these days is that science is not happening anymore,” Fields said. “Science has been really left out of the curriculum for elementary-age students, and so I think this fills a big hole.”
Topics lined up for Winter WONDERland include engineering, building, bacteria, phases of matter and chemical reactions, Knorr said. One of the experiments, the science of snow, might prove difficult for some of the children at the camp who haven’t seen snow, Knorr added.
“It’s always easier when you’re able to relate to what you’re learning about,” Knorr said. “We’re going to have to make some artificial snow. We’re going to have to see if anybody can draw on past experiences. … We might have to watch some videos or find out ways that we can get these kids to really experience what snow is.”
The Fusion Camps aren’t just about making science fun but are also a way for children to branch out and make connections, Fields said.
“I have two elementary-age kids who did it all summer, and one of their favorite parts about camp was meeting new friends,” Fields said. “It’s not only a great educational experience for kids, but for bonding with new friends as well.”
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