As the damp spring turns to summer sun, an invigorating spirit seems to re-emerge inside Discovery World and around Milwaukee’s lakefront. This renewed energy permeates throughout the museum in the classrooms and exhibits with the sound of excitement and a steady appetite for learning.
While the summer months offer local students better weather and time out of the traditional classroom, the fundamental mission inside Wisconsin’s largest science and technology center remains the same; to provide quality educational experiences within the S.T.E.M. fields to the children of this community. For over thirty-five years, Discovery World has realized this mission and has become a sanctuary for creativity and curiosity to flourish. Especially from June through August.
Part of this effort aims to inspire the next generation of innovative thinkers. Education, whether formal or informal, continues to play a critical role for all the children that come to pass. And though the school year concludes in mid-June, learning never ends at Discovery World.
During the summer months, a series of camp programs are offered to the children through the correlational lens of a specific S.T.E.M. field. The summer camps allow children to broaden their horizons by introducing them to a week-long course that can take them further beyond the classroom and into a long-term career.
So as the summer draws to a close, we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on what’s been—the experiments, the lessons, the connections, and maybe even the dissections from the summer camps over the last eleven weeks. And while the trees begin to fall bare, we look forward to what the future brings in the year ahead.
Why Summer Camp matters to Milwaukee
In today’s digital climate, Discovery World continuously strives to adapt to the newest scientific and technological advancements that are currently under development. As a result, the summer camps at the museum are mirrored through this effort. The courses engage students through hands-on activities, demonstrations, and collaborative experiments, which have proven to be very popular, particularly in engaging young girls in engineering and coding.
In order to provide access to the educational opportunities in Milwaukee for all students, a camp scholarship grant is also available to disadvantaged families in need of financial assistance. The scholarship grants are made possible thanks to our generous donors and partners who have contributed to the Discovery World Access Fund. Just this year, more than 465 children received a scholarship to attend a summer camp of their choice.
The museum houses more than ten classrooms devoted to a specific area of study that includes biology, chemistry, engineering, freshwater ecology, automation, and digital technology. Some of the summer camp highlights may differ depending upon who you ask. In a season of nearly 114 camps, it can be difficult to choose, but here are a few of the favorites!
Developing Future Aquarists, Engineers, and Scientists
Housed below the Great Lakes Future and The Challenge, the Reiman Aquarium is home to many incredible aquatic creatures that originate from the Great Lakes, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. Down under, visitors can examine stingrays, slipper lobster, lake sturgeon, and horseshoe crabs, among other species. The aquarium is impeccably maintained by our staff of aquarists who manage the fish tanks and care for the marine life.
This professional occupation has also been re-designed in the form of a summer camp, fittingly titled Aquarist-in-Training, which is offered to middle school students. Returning to this year’s catalog, the course provides a unique opportunity for children to learn from our own skilled specialists about the role of an aquarist.
The week-long program highlights several broad themes, diving into such topics that include marine biology, Great Lakes ecology, and environmental science. Throughout the week, the students also participate in the aquatic dissection of an Atlantic squid and a yellow perch. With easy access to the aquarium, campers can catch an up-close view of the sea creatures in conjunction to their classroom study.
For the past four months, a new display at Discovery World has kept our visitors thinking outside the box in a complex and fascinating adventure for all. Mazes & Brain Games, a temporary showcase that debuted in the spring, features a series of mind-bending activities, puzzles, games, and more! The exhibit takes each participant through a gripping ride of unique challenges that require problem-solving and critical reasoning.
This exhibition was also succeeded with the addition of a new summer camp that was introduced for the first time this summer in the Rockwell Automation Lab. Offered to middle school students, Escape! puts their minds to the ultimate test! Using a Breakout EDU game kit, the campers learn how to recognize patterns, create puzzles, seek clues, and collaborate with a team to escape before the clock strikes. This class was such a hit that it will likely be here to stay.
Science of Fashion, Music, and More
Holding its spot as one of the most popular camps in Discovery World history, Jr. Fashion Designer offers fourth and fifth graders the chance to merge fashion and science for an unforgettable week. In this class, students are inspired to create a fashion sense that allows their imaginations to run free. With an original touch, the young designers craft, sew, and assemble their very own clothing line with the assistance of our expert instructors. Experimenting with sewing methods and professional tools, the campers go behind-the-scenes to see how a creation is made before it hits the rack.
And it’s no secret that music holds a very special place in the heart and soul of Milwaukee. When the sun comes out, there is no better time to fire up the grill, grab a brew, and soak in the sound of summer. Music is simply woven into the cultural fabric of the city and has enriched the vibrant and unique Midwestern charm that it has to offer.
At Discovery World, music has also found a home, too. Between the lab coats and the LEGO robots, Les Paul’s House of Sound invites visitors inside an immersive experience that showcases the life and career of its beloved namesake. Established in 2008, this permanent exhibition follows Les Paul’s story from his humble beginnings in Waukesha, Wisconsin to his travels around the world—performing, innovating, and experimenting at every stop along the way. His contributions to the art form have cemented his place in the history of popular music and will continue to inspire all of those that follow in his footsteps.
Paul’s musical legacy has forged a new path for young musicians to explore, create, mix, and share music right here in his own house. Musicology, a summer camp born from this exhibit, offers a crash course to second and third-grade students throughout a week-long study. At this early age, children are encouraged to explore the science of noise and vibration that is used to make the music that we love. In the lab, campers assemble a variety of musical instruments to develop their own unique rhythm and sound. As a leading pioneer of guitar technique and recording, Les Paul’s influence looms large in Musicology and stands firmly planted in the curriculum that this class examines.
While these examples are only a handful of the many camps that are offered at the museum, we hope that this summer presented a window of discovery for both students and visitors alike. Curiosity fuels an appetite for knowledge, but one must search for a path to channel this innate desire. Some children need a push; it is our mission to spur the flame and advance their exploration.
This article was created by Discovery World’s Public Relations intern Andrew Lococo and the accompanying video was created by Discovery World’s Videographer intern Emma Jonas.