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Eye On Education: Innovative Camp Not Your Ordinary Summer School

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – It’s halfway through the summer and lots of families are planning for learning as well as fun.

Parents hear a lot about “summer learning loss”, which usually means making sure kids work through a summer reading list of books.

But a new, innovative camp lets kids work in freedom on math and science and sparks an interest that will hopefully last throughout the school year.

Colin Baker, who will be going into 6th grade in Newton, said, “It’s really fun to be able to do whatever you want after you do a couple projects on it.”

Baker mentions about wiring an electronics board, the kind of thing he’d never be able to work on in his regular classroom.

The gears are turning for other kids at this specialized summer camp in more ways than one in robotics. And over in the forensics lab, it looks like a scene from “CSI”

This isn’t your typical summer school. This is i2 Camp.

Co-founder Michael Zigman said, “The ‘i’ stands for a lot of words – to imagine, to inspire, to investigate, – and that’s what we want to have kids do for the summer.”

Instead of building campfires or playing a sport, i2 Camp is for boosting “STEM” – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

The traditional thought of summer school and dealing with math and science is of dread.

Zigman said his model is an attempt to change that whole concept for middle school age kids.

“This is the opposite of dread. One of the reasons we’re targeting middle school is that this is an age where kids drop out from the world of STEM and we wanted to keep them within the world of STEM and then propel them on,” said Zigman.

“Probably the most important thing is to inspire the kids,” he added.

No grades. No risk. Teachers encourage experimentation and even failure.

Another student, Fernanda Forero from Hyde Park, says her dad is an engineer and has taught her a love for building things.

“We’re making this little factory, mini Lego factory,” said Ferero.

This is a camp for kids at every developmental stage. It’s not just for the MIT-bound budding genius.

Noah Stone from Westwood sees that students who have a range of interests can all find something to work on and learn, each at their own level, as he is in robotics.

“It’s nice to have a place where I have an objective that’s already given to me,” said Stone. “And then I can just try to find a solution while it’s effective. It’s also a bit challenging to build.”

Twenty i2 Camps have spread across the country and operate at two schools here in Massachusetts.

A grant from the Boston Foundation is providing 60 2-week scholarships to students from public and charter schools in Boston to attend the camp at the Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury.

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