Combat Kids' Summer Boredom With Maker Camp

Are the doldrums setting in on your family's summer vacation? Chase that naughty boredom away with a free online summer camp that will get kids doing and learning at the same time.

MAKE Magazine is kicking off Maker Camp, aimed at kids and teens but free and open to anyone who can access Google+. According to the Google blog, last year’s inaugural instance of the summer camp saw 1 million participants, thanks to the camp's free and flexible curriculum. 

“Maker Camp takes place wherever you are, by letting you do fun activities and share them with others through the Google+ platform. You’ll make cool projects, go on epic virtual ‘field trips’ and meet awesome makers,”  wrote Dale Dougherty, founder and publisher of MAKE magazine and Maker Faire.

Half of the program will be online in the form of ‘field trips’ (actually Google Hangouts), with the likes of NASA and Pixar. The other half will be do-it-yourself projects. Maker Camp will offer kids instructions on how to make 30 new things in six weeks, starting today and going until August 16. Kids can do the projects in any order, but are encouraged to share them in the Maker Camp community on certain dates.

Every project meshes crafting with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills. For example, today’s craft is a two-liter soda-bottle boat that teaches kids about the scientific principle of buoyancy. According to Google+ spokesperson Elizabeth Markman, kids will brush up on STEM skills over the summer now more than ever. 

“Here in the U.S., we rank 23rd in the world in math, and 31st in science,” Markman said. “Yet, as of 2011, 26 million jobs in the states require a high level of knowledge in any one STEM field. This is creating a widening gap—potentially exacerbated by summer slide for students. However, there seem to be more resources than ever making it possible to supplement traditional education with online education that could close this up.”

Maker Camp kicks off with a Google Hangout led by Dougherty today at 2 PM EST, 11 AM PST.

Illustration via MAKE Magazine on Google+.