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WITF offers free 'Summer STEM Adventure' camp for kids to have fun and learn from home

The program, aimed at kids from kindergarten to 4th grade, offers fun STEM-related activities for kids. It launches July 1.
Credit: WITF
A scene from “Hero Elementary,” one of the PBS KIDS programs that helps young learners explore animal habitats as part of the Summer STEM Adventure.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — WITF announced the launch of a new "Summer STEM Adventure" program for Central PA families looking for a fun, educational summer experience at home.

The program begins on Wednesday, WITF said.

Based on the “Engineering By Design” curriculum, the “summer camp at home” guides families through a combination of PBS KIDS television programs, discussion questions, structured craft activities and career exploration for children in kindergarten through fourth grade, WITF said.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education is a student-centered approach that encourages development of skills such as problem solving, curiosity, communication and design thinking. 

WITF said it partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Intermediate Units 12, 13 and 15 to provide the summer camp in a format that sparks interest in STEM and its related careers, supports different styles of learning, removes obstacles to participation, and meets educational objectives in a rewarding way. 

"WITF is proud to partner with our local intermediate units to create this innovative outreach," said WITF director of education Debbie Riek. "We are excited for families to play and learn together this summer!"

The IUs recognized one obstacle to participation could be that families do not have craft resources or broadcast television signals at home. 

To overcome the challenge, WITF assembled 3,000 “Grab and Go” resource bags and 300 antennas for IUs to distribute to partner locations that serve families directly. 

Each free resource bag contains pencils, a pencil sharpener, crayons, colored pencils, paper plates, construction paper, safety scissors, a glue stick and the curriculum packet with instructions in English and Spanish, WITF said.

“Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) has always had a great relationship with WITF for various educational programming," said Susan Voigt, Capital Area IU educational services supervisor. "Collaborating with our IU colleagues at Lincoln IU 12 and Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13, we were able to reach even more students this past spring.

“The Summer STEM Adventure activities and packets gave us an opportunity to continue engaging students across the eight-county region. It truly was a team effort to pull this together, and we have developed a strong partnership that I hope will last indefinitely."

During the eight-week camp, families watch featured PBS KIDS programs like “Wild Kratts,” and “Hero Elementary” on WITF TV to learn about animal habitats, camouflage, mimicry, structure and more. 

A discussion guide and key vocabulary help caregivers talk to their children about what they are watching. 

Then, families work together on an animal habitat design project using the materials in the “Grab and Go” bags. 

The curriculum also includes introductions to STEM careers for young learners, a suggested book list and links to extension STEM games and activities online. 

The partners hope that participation in the “Summer STEM Adventure!” brings many positive outcomes for children and their families. 

Educational goals for the program include: 

  • learning about design principles
  • engaging in family conversations that help develop social and emotional skills
  • practicing making inferences
  • reflecting on content, discussing details
  • exploring careers

IUs will distribute the 3,000 “Grab and Go” bags and 300 antennas to the following partner school districts and locations:

  • Bermudian Springs 
  • Tuscarora
  • Lincoln Charter School
  • West York
  • Upper Adams
  • Gettysburg
  • York Academy Regional Charter School 
  • Chambersburg 
  • School District for the City of York
  • LIU Early Childhood Classrooms
  • School District of Lancaster
  • Penn Manor School District
  • Steelton-Highspire Elementary (Salvation Army of Harrisburg)
  • Susquehanna Township School District
  • Harrisburg School District
  • Camp Curtin YMCA 

Any families that do not receive a “Grab and Go” bag but are interested in participating in “Summer STEM Adventure!” can access the activity sheets, book list and extension activities online at witf.org/stem.