For parents of young learners, the summer can be a perfect time to have students participate in activities that increase their engagement and interest in STEM. We put together a list of ten free or low-cost activities that young learners can do in the Boston area this summer.
This blog post is the first in our Launch Into Summer Blog Series. Stay tuned for future posts on how entrepreneurs, educators, parents, and students can crush the summer break.
Now that school’s out, most young learners are looking forward to a much needed and well-deserved break from their studies. But summer is a great time to show students the magic of learning outside of the classroom.
Participating in stimulating activities that connect learning to the outside world increases student interest and engagement in STEM subjects – and students who are more engaged perform better and are less likely to get discouraged by academic setbacks. In fact, research from nonprofit education think tank The Waterford Institute indicates “the best predictor of student success is the extent to which families encourage learning at home and involve themselves in their child’s education.”
Research from the International Journal of Science Education also shows that students form their own STEM academic values early in life, based on their perception of parents’ interest in STEM. By actively engaging in STEM activities alongside their children, parents send a powerful message to students who are beginning to develop their own academic values, behaviors, and interests.
The Boston area is full of free or low-cost activities for young learners to explore various STEM subjects with their parents! We compiled a list of some of our favorites below.
Every year, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute puts on a family-friendly festival of science, technology, and robots. Students of all ages will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on experiments, experience fun and interactive exhibits, and discover a wide-array of STEM subjects and research areas. Registration is free, and the event is scheduled for June 8th, 10 – 4 PM.
Location: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
The Harvard Museums of Science & Culture (HMSC) annual Summer Solstice celebration will be held on Friday, June 21st this year. Enjoy hands-on activities such as creating flower crowns or interacting with augmented-reality exhibits,live music, and free admission to all four HMSC museums.
Location: Harvard Museums of Science & Culture
On Friday nights from 8:30 to 10:30 PM, the Museum of Science offers free stargazing opportunities for students in grades K-12 and parents. Telescopes are available to use for free, and museum staff members engage youth in hands-on space activities.
Location: Museum of Science, Boston
Microsoft Stores offer many free events and workshops over the summer for students of all ages interested in computer technology and coding.
Location: Prudential Center Microsoft Store
Every Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 4 pm, the MIT Museum hosts Idea Hub, an interactive session where students ages 12+ can engage in a variety of STEM activities. Past activities have included 3D printing and design, computer programming, and paper circuit design.
Location: MIT Museum
Cost: Free with museum admission
The Boston Public Library hosts STEAM Team, an opportunity for young students to explore a variety of steam subjects, as well as many other events throughout the summer. You can register for a STEAM Team Event here.
Location: Boston Public Library
At the Verizon Innovative Learning Labs, students ages 8-12 can expose students to virtual and augmented reality technology in a fun and interactive environment. Each of these free sessions only holds up to 8 students at a time, so parents should register early in advance.
Location: Verizon Innovative Learning Lab in Boston, MA
On the first Friday of every month, from 4:30 to 8:00 PM, admission to the Discovery Museum in Acton is free. Students will be able to learn, play, and engage in the intersection between science and nature.
Location: Discovery Museum in Acton, MA
On several weekends throughout the summer, the Boston Children’s Museum hosts hour-long STEAM Family workshops where both children and their parents can engage in STEAM skills, challenges, and hands-on activities.
Location: Boston Children’s Museum
Price: Free with museum admission
10. Create Something at a Makerspace
Makerspaces are a great opportunity to build and create along with your children. Most makerspaces in the Boston area are either free or low cost for admission. Parts and Crafts in Somerville and Hatch in Watertown are just two of the many Makerspaces in the Boston Area that you can visit this summer.
Location: Somerville and Watertown, MA
Price: Free for some events