Cure for the summer blues: Bedford kids get to play mad scientist
One of the more popular program offerings is Mad Science Camp, said Director Jane O'Brien.
“It's not sports and team related,” O'Brien said. “It gives a different perspective for other kids in town.”
With origins as an after-school program, O'Brien expanded the program to include weeklong summer camps.
“During the school year, they don't have a lot of time to do the cool things,” O'Brien said.
Little ones recently had a chance to explore gardening at Mad Science's Budding Botanist Camp.
The camp gave mini scientists the chance to learn more about how gardens grow, including how seedlings grow into plants, the role of sun and rain, and the creepy, crawly inhabitants of a garden that help make it beautiful.
“Dynamic Danielle,” and her teaching partner, “Kinetic Kristin” McDonald had students playing musical puddles, coloring pages for homemade books and working on a group mural that would be finished by the end of the week.
“It's been so hot, but they've been troopers,” said Dugas. “They know a lot for their age.”
The camp has given even the youngest participants a chance to become more interested in science, said Christine Latino, owner of Mad Science of Southern New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts.
“Most of our camps are for 7- to 12-year olds,” she said, but the gardening theme is a popular one with those a little younger.
“The kids are getting messy some days, talking about seeds, bugs, and how things grow in a garden,” Latino said.
One of the most important factors for the camps, Latino said, is that the kids get real, hands-on experience in whatever they're studying.
Latino said the most important thing about Mad Science programs, after safety, is that they're fun.
A kids advisory board approves all programs before they are made available to the public.
“Kids go through the programs and test them for the fun factor,” she said.
Latino said she looks for staff that has experience with kids, and often finds that teachers on summer vacation make great camp leaders.
“I actually hire personalities,” Latino said. “We can train people on the science, but we can't train on personalities.”
All camp staff are put through background checks and many are CPR and first-aid certified.
O'Brien said that while participation in the program varies because of busy summer schedules, Mad Science has had a positive response.
“It was so well-received, we booked more,” she said.
There are openings still available for Mad Science and other programs this summer. For more information, contact Bedford Parks and Recreation Department at 472-5242.
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