Just because it’s summer, it doesn’t mean that your child’s curiosity and creativity automatically turn off. Yes, Mother Nature’s humidity might make your kiddo a bit more lazy, but I guarantee that his or her mind is still going a million miles an hour. So be sure to enrich your summer days with some fun and unique STEM learning opportunities (you know: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The best part? There are STEM-inspired programs for learners of all ages and abilities, and they are guaranteed to help your child overcome the summer slump that parents and teachers fear.
We live in a technologically advanced society, and kids’ coding classes prove it. PowerUp Tech Academy and Digital Adventures are both examples of tech-based kids’ classes that help develop future inventors and innovators. Their hands-on classes help students to recognize sequencing, and that inspires them to then tinker and deliberately play with technology. Young learners will be sure to recognize that it isn’t the phone that is “smart”—they are!
PowerUp Tech Academy: 2867 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago
Digital Adventures: 406 Linden Ave., Wilmette; 701 W. Armitage, Chicago
Ever dream of being a Lego engineer? That dream can be realized at the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg! Not only are there tons of beautifully constructed displays to inspire your inner architect, but there are also opportunities for Lego enthusiasts to build their own vehicles and test them out on real tracks. Math and engineering are clearly at the forefront at this one-of-a-kind think space … just be sure to not step on those pesky blocks!
The Streets of Woodfield (next to Woodfield Mall), 601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg
Mad Science is a unique program that provides kids with a hands-on approach to learning science. Not sure what to expect other than a teacher who looks like Albert Einstein? Imagine messy experiments, lively debates and surprising discoveries that will inspire curiosity and broaden your child’s understanding of what science is and how it affects his or her world.
1053 N. California, Chicago; 2918 S. Wentworth, Chicago; 15 E. Palatine Road, Prospect Heights
This vast kid-centric museum puts STEM learning at the forefront of many of its exhibits. From experimenting with gears and circuits to building unique wooden creations with actual tools, there are so many opportunities to become an engineer and learn about math and technology through open-ended play.
301 N. Washington St., Naperville
Local nature centers
Looking for STEM learning on a budget? Then check out your local nature center. Just about all of them are free, and there are experts available to give guided tours of the natural habitats, provide animal encounters with the nature center’s adorable residents, and challenge young naturalists through discussions, story times and other hands-on projects. Our family’s favorite centers are Wildwood Nature Center in Park Ridge, The Grove in Glenview and Emily Oaks Nature Center in Skokie.