Registration has begun for GlaxoSmithKline's very popular Science in the Summer program.
The program offers free camps for rising second graders to rising eighth graders with locations in nine North Carolina counties. And you did read that right: It's completely free and open to all.
Jarrett L. Grimm, the program coordinator who is based at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, said the program has extended its reach every year since it began in 2008 with 10 camps. This year, there will be 40 different sessions mostly in libraries in Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Harnett, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties. Grimm expects to serve about 2,500 children this summer.
GlaxoSmithKline started the program 25 years ago in Philadelphia where its original headquarters were. In North Carolina, Morehead administers the program, hiring N.C. certified teachers to lead the camps. Two high school students also are hired as camp assistants for each session.
Students are broken up into three levels. Level one is made up of rising second and third graders. They usually meet from 9 a.m. to noon during the week-long session. Rising fourth and fifth graders make up the second level and attend afternoon sessions for a week.
And rising sixth through eighth graders meet for two half days in either the classroom or the program's mobile science lab, a 40-foot bus.
All three levels focus on the same general topic at the appropriate level. This summer, the topic is magnetism and electricity.
Sessions run from June 13 to Aug. 16. A rolling registration period started this month. Some locations fill up within the first five minutes after registration opens, others don't, Grimm said. Children are not allowed to attend more than one session.
"This is an effort to keep them learning and thinking and growing," she said. "We try as much as possible to do hands on activities. There's no kind of busy work. They're involved in it."
And while the program is open all, leaders are especially targeting kids who don't have many summer enrichment opportunities and would otherwise experience the so-called summer slide or loss of knowledge during summer break.
"We especially try to get those kids involved," Grimm said.
For details and to register your child, check the Science in the Summer website.