Middle School Science Camps

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Due to the Covid19 pandemic, all of our 2021 camps will be virtual. All in-person camps are cancelled until 2022 at the earliest. 

Core Philosophies

The Sternberg Museum Science Camps field programs are built around a core philosophy of student development and advancement. We train our students with dedicated lessons and by example, giving them new tools and knowledge to use as they pursue their goals. To paraphrase many of our past students, it will be the most challenging, amazingly fun thing you’ve done!

Skill-Building
Having a core set of field skills can be incredibly valuable for students looking to advance their opportunities in the natural sciences. By introducing and developing these essential and specialized skills, we train our students to be productive, competitive, and prepared for work in science beyond the classroom.

Empowerment
Our students are taught to safely and responsibly carry out our field tasks in a variety of favorable and adverse conditions. In doing this, students discover their own depths of resilience and strength. Students are taught to monitor themselves and others in their team, and take initiative to get the job done right.

“These trips have helped me throughout school. These opportunities I believe are the reason I have been able to take high school classes such as pre AP Biology this year as an elective. I certainly intend on continuing my extra-curricular assistance provided by an enjoyable week in the field. The Gatlin family all give special thanks to the directors and assistants for making this all possible.” – Katie Gatlin, sixth year participant

Advanced Academics
We introduce our students to foundational concepts in earth and life sciences to start out our field programs. From the Law of Superposition to the population basis for evolution by natural selection, students are set up to learn content quickly as we build understanding through observation and discussion. Our staff are broadly trained in the topics of their respective camps, and are excited to engage with student questions.

Fun
We are program built for science geeks, by science geeks. We love spending time in the field, and want to make sure our students see that while field science can be hard work, it’s also a ton of fun. From outdoor discoveries to making new friends, we strive to keep the work of field science balanced with a healthy dose of laughter!

About Middle School Virtual Camps

All of our online camps include a box of materials mailed to students for use during that respective camp. Items are selected by instructors as part of the curriculum, and organized for use in guided and independent activities. This is in addition to online resources being used in each camp, and web-meetings for students with staff for lessons, activities, and discussions.

Please keep in mind that we will have students from across time zones, so we are having to be flexible with daily start and end times to not force any student(s) to wake up overly early, or stay up too late.

Virtual Summer Camp: 
This summer, we are implementing a new set of video-game-like virtual summer camp spaces using a customizable online conferencing platform. This system allows for students and staff to engage in a setting outside of just Zoom, with interactivity for everyone involved. While we aren’t yet ready to show off our new virtual Sternberg Camp center, we’re immensely excited about the new opportunities it will open up for us this summer!

Morning:

  • Pre-assigned narrated presentation from instructional staff, and/or YouTube video with question prompts related to upcoming topics and activities.
  • Live-chat (Zoom)presentation or discussion with instructional staff to review previous day, go over new content for that day, and preview the next day or two. These live lectures/presentations will typically only be 15-20 minutes at a time (though student questions and conversation will likely extend this timeframe), as we value engagement-based content exploration and student inquiry.
  • Go over projects and activities. Do progress checks on larger scale projects.
  • Individual or group project work time. We will have Zoom rooms set up so students can talk with each other and the staff during these portions. We want the students to be able to socialize with each other as well as ask the staff questions in real-time. 
Afternoon: 

  • Second content presentation/discussion with instructional staff, with time included for questions and conversation from the students. 
  • Individual or group project time, structured as described above for the morning. 
  • Formal check-in via live-chat between students and staff to go over questions from the day, review, and present any additional content as determined needed by the instructional staff to make sure daily content progress goals are staying on track. (We also have contingencies for if students master the planned content quickly, so we can continue to challenge and engage the students with new skills and information.)


Evening:

  • Prompted Q&A sessions, where students bring questions to pose to staff about previously announced topics (applying to college, working with faculty, finding internships, specific science subjects related to the camp, etc). 
  • Documentary/movie watch parties, with students and staff watching a program with opportunities to discuss what they are seeing and interpreting the “movie science”, or questions students may have about content in the documentary. 

 

*Students may not enroll in overlapping camps.*

Questions? Contact us at SternbergCamps@FHSU.edu, or at 785-639-5249

About Middle School Field Camps

*Returning (hopefully) in 2022!*

How to apply:

The final 2021 application deadline is May 1st. We will not review an applicant’s packet for admission until it is 100% complete. We also have early acceptance review deadlines on:

    • January 9th
    • February 13th
    • March 13th
    • April 10th

Student applicants must be ages 11 to 13 as of June 2021.

  • Complete online application.
    • To do this, you will need to set up an account with CampDoc. You can do this by clicking the “Apply Today” link at the top of this page. Once this is done, you’ll be able to log back in to your account as you complete the application process.
    • If you already have an account with CampDoc, simply log in. Your personal information should all be saved from your last application.
    • The waiver can be found in the online application.
    • The financial aid application can be found in the online application.
  • 2 page (5-7 paragraph) letter of interest from the student applicant.
    • You can find suggestions for writing your letter of interest here.
    • This must be submitted through the CampDoc application system.
  • Letter of recommendation from the non-family member for the student applicant.
    • This must be submitted through the CampDoc application system.
    • You can find instructions for recommendation letter-writers here.
    • Returning students in good standing do not need to submit a recommendation letter.
      • Standing is determined by staff. A student not in good standing will be expressly notified by the Camps Director.

Staff

Our camps staff are professional scientists and science educators, graduate students, college students, and Camps alumni. We value a wide range of professional skills and career paths, in order to provide a broad set of skills training and perspective to our students. All of our staff are deeply passionate about outreach and education in addition to their scientific specializations.

Cancellation Policy

A 10% deposit is paid at the time of registration. Students who are accepted into the camp must then have the remainder of the registration fee paid by the June 1st, 2020 payment deadline.

Q: What if my student is not accepted into the camp they applied for? Do you refund tuition?
A: 100% of paid tuition is refunded to any students not accepted to a camp they applied for. This includes the initial deposit paid at the time of initial application.

Q: What is your cancellation and refund policy?
A:

Refund Policy:
Cancellations must be submitted via email. Deposit fees for camp(s) applications are fully refundable until the applicant is officially accepted for admission. Prior to admission, the deposit is fully refundable in the case of cancellation submitted in writing. Denial of application acceptance will result in a full refund of the deposit payment for each camp the applicant was not accepted to. Following application acceptance, the deposit is no longer fully refundable, and each camp registration is held to a minimum 10-percent cancellation fee. For cancellations 30 to 10 days prior to the start of a camp, half of the total fee is refundable. For cancellations made 9 or fewer days prior to the start of the program, no amount of the fee is refundable. Registration fees are non-transferable between applicants or to accepted participants. Funds provided Sternberg Science Camps in the form of any financial scholarship to the participant will be withheld in any case where a scholarship awardee or their parent(s)/guardian(s) cancels an accepted application.

Cancellation Policy:
In the event of a camp being cancelled, either due to insufficient enrollment, or other unforeseeable impairments, the Sternberg Science Camps will provide a refund of all tuition and/or deposit fees paid up to the point of cancellation. Any scholarship funds awarded to the applicant to aid in attendance will be retained by the Sternberg Science Camps program. We are unable to reimburse the cost of any travel expenses paid to transport successful applicants to and/or from their camp(s). We strongly recommend attendees insure their travel to and from their respective camp(s) being attended.

For answers to more possible questions, see our Frequently Asked Questions page!

Contact Us

For questions about the Sternberg Science Camps programs, contact us at SternbergCamps@fhsu.edu or 785-639-5249.

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 June

Life before the Dinosaurs

Journey back over 240 million years ago, to a world before the dinosaurs! Students will spend the week exploring the earliest ancient life, the evolution of major groups of animals we still see today, and the habitats these ancient creatures lived in. 

Content outline:

  • The first fossilized life
  • Giant insects
  • Giant insects Evolution of sharks
  • Vertebrates invade the land
  • Exploring Pangaea
  • Crocodiles and dinosaur ancestors
  • Virtual field trips
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Critical reading of science articles

Dates
June 13-18

Staff
(Instructional staff TBD)

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

Dinosaur Discoveries (session 1)

Students will spend the week exploring the latest in dinosaur paleontology discoveries, and what tools scientists use to help us understand these amazing creatures! Staff will guide students through the biggest questions in dinosaur studies, and the science history that lead us to them today!

Content outline:

  • The first dinosaurs
  • Warm blooded or cold blooded?
  • Evolution and extinction
  • Feathers and birds
  • Dinosaurs in popular culture
  • The changing Mesozoic world
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Critical reading of science articles
  • Guest presenters
  • Virtual field trips

Dates
June 20-25

Staff
Instructor: Megan Wyatt

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

Geology of Technology

Ever wonder where the materials that make up smartphones, computers, and other electronics come from? Our electronic devices are built from all kinds of metals and minerals that come from refined resources mined from the ground, all with unique and important properties. Students will spend the week exploring the components of common modern electronics and the incredible resources that make them possible. 

Content outline:

  • Conductivity and resistance
  • Finding and processing raw materials
  • Future materials
  • The evolution of batteries
  • Memory, magnets, and metals
  • The geology of Green Energy
  • Guest presenters
  • Virtual field trips
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Critical reading of science articles

Dates
June 27 – July 2

Staff
(Instructional staff TBD)

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

Birds: Tiny Tweets to Giant Talons

From penguins to peregrine falcons, birds come with an amazing diversity of shapes, sizes, songs and colors. Students will spend the week exploring the unique and incredible adaptations of some of the most fascinating birds from right in your own town, and a few from the farthest reaches of the planet. 

Content outline:

  • Colorful feathers and displays
  • Baby birds growing up
  • Finding food from sea to sky 
  • Beaks, songs, and evolution
  • Getting started with birding
  • Birds in the fossil record
  • Guest presenters
  • Virtual field trips
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Critical reading of science articles

Dates
June 27 – July 2

Staff
Co-Instructor: Alyssa DeRubeis
Co-Instructor: Maggie Wolf

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

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 July

Introduction to Paleo-Art

The perfect camp for the budding paleontology illustrator looking to build new skills and learn to use new tools! Students will spend the week learning about illustration and sculpture methods used by professionals, all while focusing on the prehistoric organisms they know and love (and maybe a few new ones). 

Content outline:

  • Illustrating extinct creatures
  • Sculpting models
  • Lighting and color
  • Colored pencils and ink
  • Landscapes, environments, and perspective
  • Introduction to watercolors
  • Guest speakers
  • Virtual field trips
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Assessment of peer and professional artworks

Dates
July 4-9

Staff
(Instructional staff TBD)

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

Journey to the Ice Age

Students will spend the week exploring the world of prehistoric mammals, from horned squirrels to armored sloths, the first walking whales, all the way to mammoths and sabertooth cats! Students will learn about the unique tools scientists use to help us understand these amazing creatures. Staff will guide students through the biggest questions in mammal-paleontology, and the science history that got us to where we are today!

Content Outline

  • Surviving the Cretaceous Extinction
  • The first cats and dogs and bears (oh my!)
  • Elephant origins
  • Evolution of horses
  • Rodents huge and small
  • The best places for mammal fossils
  • Guest presenters
  • Virtual field trips
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Critical reading of science articles

Dates
July 11-16

Staff
Instructor: Megan Wyatt

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

150 Million Years of SNAKES

Snakes today come in all kinds of colors, sizes, habitat preferences, and amazing other adaptations. Some have evolved heat-vision and incredibly complex venoms for hunting prey, while others simply squeeze the air from their meals. But how did snakes get to be so diverse? What happened to their legs? In this camp, students will explore these questions and more as they dive into the evolutionary story of snakes!

Content Outline

  • The origin of snakes
  • Fangs, venom, and defense tools
  • Swimming, crawling, and climbing
  • Super senses
  • Incredible fossil snakes
  • How to be a herpetologist
  • Guest presenters
  • Virtual field trips
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Critical reading of science articles

Dates
July 11-16

Staff
(Instructional staff TBD)

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

Ancient Seas

Our oceans tell an amazing history of life on our planet, with some of the most fascinating creatures to ever exist! Staff will guide students on a journey through millions of years of ocean life as they dive into the ancient seas and their fascinating inhabitants. From mosasaurs to giant penguins, massive fish, and whales with legs, students will find an incredible depth of new discoveries to explore. 

Content outline:

  • Extinctions in the seas
  • The evolution of marine mammals
  • Mesozoic oceans
  • Sharks through the ages
  • Learning from modern oceans
  • Identifying common marine fossils
  • Guest presenters
  • Virtual field trips
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Critical reading of science articles

Dates
July 18-23

Staff
Instructor: Kellum Tate-Jones

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

Insect Adaptations: From Mind-Control to Explosions

Be they small, they are mighty! Insects have some of the most remarkable, specialized adaptations of any group of animals past or present. In this camp, students will explore the incredible complexity of these wondrous creatures, and learn to better understand and appreciate them in your own backyards and parks!

Content outline:

  • Insect chemical warfare 
  • Ants, bees, and social insects
  • Habitat engineers
  • Talking with dances, chirps and flashing lights
  • Helpers, pests, and parasites
  • The incredible science of metamorphosis
  • Guest presenters
  • Virtual field trips
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Critical reading of science articles

Dates
July 18-23

Staff
Instructor: Maggie Wolf

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

Dinosaur Discoveries (session 2)

Students will spend the week exploring the latest in dinosaur paleontology discoveries, and what tools scientists use to help us understand these amazing creatures! Staff will guide students through the biggest questions in dinosaur studies, and the science history that lead us to them today!

Content outline:

  • The first dinosaurs
  • Warm blooded or cold blooded?
  • Evolution and extinction
  • Feathers and birds
  • Dinosaurs in popular culture
  • The changing Mesozoic world
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Critical reading of science articles
  • Guest presenters
  • Virtual field trips

Dates
July 25-30

Staff
Instructor: Molly Hunt

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

The Strange World of Plants

From algae to redwoods, plants are the foundation of nearly every ecosystem on the planet. They make the oxygen we breathe, and form the base of nearly all food-chains! But what about the weird and wonderful plants? The ones with “superpowers”? In this camp, students will explore the strange, remarkable adaptations of plants that show us how incredible they truly are!  

Content outline:

  • Flowers, fruits, and nectar
  • Carnivorous plants
  • 5,000 year old trees and shrubs
  • Thriving through fire
  • Chemical defenses
  • Plants in ancient and modern medicine
  • Guest presenters
  • Virtual field trips
  • Educational games and group community-building activities
  • Critical reading of science articles

Dates
July 25-30

Staff
Instructor: Keri Maricle

Cost per student per session
Sternberg Museum members: $540
Non-members: $600

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