Recently, my 5-year-old son signed up for a “Young Engineers Club.” It’s pretty much just goofing around with Legos, but he is so proud that real engineers teach him. The teacher has reiterated that even though it seems like they are just building blocks, the program teaches them a lot about visualization, problem-solving, scaling, and using their imaginations. There are some amazing STEM offerings for kids in Portland. Below is a list of recommendations.
Engineering for Kids-
This place is based in NW Portland. They offer classes, parties, homeschooling programs, and summer camps. Offerings are available for kiddos up to age 14 (although one of the summer camp options is available for 11 and older). One of the classes currently available is “Educational Minecraft.” The summer camp programs are available at various locations in Lake Oswego, Happy Valley, and West Linn. Their curriculum looks amazing with options such as robotics, coding, Minecraft, and E-sports. For more info, here is the link: https://www.engineeringforkids.com/portland/.
We actually just booked this company to do a science show for my son’s birthday. This company offers events, after-school programs, and summer camps. The in-person programs are limited to a 10-student cohort. They are extremely cautious about covid protocols. They are currently offering a buy one, get one 25% off registrations for their programs. The promo code is: “STEM Family.” They also have an offering for small groups virtually. They have a 6-week program for a group of up to 10 kids for $600 virtual or $800 for the in-person session. They provide the experiments, the equipment, and take-home projects for the kiddos. For more info, here is the link: https://portland.madscience.org/.
OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry)-
Well. There are a few summer camps left at OMSI. The website reads, “Over 75% of programs are full”. The classes are based on age, and there are varied subjects. There are classes open that involve: astronauts, biomimicry, train engineering, cooking, digital boot camp, design, Lego machines, coding for girls, chemistry, natural disasters, dinosaurs, and gaming. For more info, here is the link: https://omsi.edu/camps-and-classes.
Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum-
There are some amazing opportunities at Evergreen. They offer two, week-long summer camps 1) Air Academy for 3rd-5th graders 2) Galaxy Exploration training for 6th-9th graders. The camps are available in early August. Camps are $290 for the session, BUT they offer financial aid scholarships that knock off 90% of the cost! Applications are available on their website. Here is a link: https://www.evergreenmuseum.org/camps.
Play-Well is defined as a “Lego-inspired engineering class for kids K-8”. They offer after-school programs, summer camps, and parties. They serve multiple counties here in Portland: Benton, Deschutes, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill. Their class focuses sound amazing: engineering, engineering themes, robotics, challenge-based, and gaming. They also have stem courses specifically for girls. For more info, here is the link: https://www.play-well.org/.
Geared for kids K-6th grade, Camp invention has a lot to offer. This company offers summer camp options, programs, and “innovation exploration kits” that the child can explore on their own. The choices sound extremely interesting. Some of the options include Robotic pet vet kit (robotic pets you can take apart, diagnose, and personalize), DIY robot kit (a remote-controlled robot!), Optibot kit (a self-driving robot), and Bot ANN-E kit (a robot you can code to plant seeds). The company offers incentives for those who refer people to their programs. By signing up through their email and referring friends, you can earn Amazon gift cards. Here is the link to their website: https://www.invent.org/.
Airway Science for Kids Inc.-
This company focuses on equity in STEM by removing barriers and giving kids from all backgrounds access to STEM. Their Aerospace Training Center is located in North Portland and offers amazing activities for kids. High school kids can rebuild aircraft engines, elementary and middle school kids can experiment with flight simulators. These programs vary with availability due to the fluctuation with covid restrictions, but the website reads that more programs will be available soon. They also have summer camps available. Between June and August of this year, they have a few options available: aviation academy, robotics, mission to Mars, disc sports, and more. Here is a link to their website: https://airsci.org/.
There has been a strong focus on STEM for a while now. People of color and women have been underrepresented in the field for a long time. It is great to see so many local programs and such strong encouragement for kids to partake in this field. A recent survey shows that STEM jobs are growing by 24% while other jobs are growing at around 4%. It is beneficial and important for kiddos to learn about this field because STEM jobs can change the world. Best of luck to you all in finding a fun, local STEM activity or camp for your kids.
Stephanie McCoy was born and raised in Portland, Oregon-where she still lives. She recently graduated with a Master’s in Education degree from Concordia University. In her free time: she likes to read and write, get outdoors, embrace her kiddos and husband, and watch travel documentaries.