Academic summer camps make learning exciting for kids, even during the summer.
From interesting science camp programs to cool day camps for kids, our list features a little bit of everything. Writers can hone their craft, scientists can test a new experiments and tech-savvy kiddos can tinker with new tools.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer camps in NYC
Make sure to put at least one of these academic summer camps on your family's summer bucket list. Not only are they engaging, but they provide opportunities for youngsters to meet new friends, explore different areas of the city and make the most out of their time off from school. Sounds like a no-brainer to us!
Best academic camps for kids
Expect a lot of learning crammed into Tip-Top Brain’s five-week camp, especially considering that their 2020 themes are climate change and global warming. But this STEAM program isn’t just focused on math and science: It includes coloring, drawing and other artsy stuff for younger children. Older participants can do 3-D printing and other DIY activities, and they’re responsible for working on a summer- long project related to the topic at hand. Classes are small, with no more than 12 students per instructor. Plus, Tip-Top Brain understands that kids are kids and that a day camp must include time for outdoor play. Ages 4–13.
Every week at this South Slope lab, moppets can devour a new topic, from geodes, crystals and the physics of toys to the theoretical reasoning behind superhero powers and the scienceofsnot(yes, there’s a biological reason for boogers). Tiny Scientist believes in play-based learning, so the interactive projects encourage inquisitive kids to get a bit messy. Check the website for a full schedule. Ages 5–10.
The summer immersion program from Girls Who Code—a national nonprofit that teaches young women the tech savvy they need to get ahead in the 21st century—is a seven-week session for students entering the 10th or 11th grades. Camp takes place at tech companies, where your young coder will acquire real-world skills. Applications are due March 13, 2020. Ages 15–17.
Think NYC greenery is just about trees and some nice parks? The Staten Island Museum will prove
you wrong. Perfect for adventurers who love science as much as they love the outdoors, this two-week experience takes young naturalists through the borough’s trails, wetlands, salt marshes, beaches and woodlands. After journeying through terra incognita, kids will participate in creative STEM activities to build their understanding of the environment. Ages 8–13.
At this camp, kids will get a taste of college life a few years ahead of schedule. Manhattan College opens up its quaint campus to youngsters looking to explore new areas that might not necessarily be on their school’s syllabus. Educators across the Bronx gather for the summer to help campers tackle coding, moviemaking, photo editing and many more exciting subjects. For those who have science on the brain, prepare for a day filled with interactive experiments that will make kids better understand the scientific thinking and the fundamentals of different areas. Ages 6–12.
Queens College summer camps give children an early taste of campus life. Separated by age group, the education-and-sports program splits each day between academics and athletics. Mornings are devoted to reading, writing and STEM, and the afternoons are full of alfresco activities: basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball for the youngsters, as well as relay races, parachute games and a soccer intro for tots. Ages 5–14.
Where better to fine-tune your young creative’s skills than at one of the best museums in the country? Two educators guide each 25-kid class through a project that teaches design vocabulary and a four-step design process: defining problems, generating ideas, prototyping and testing. Visits to galleries and exhibitions are included, as are fun outdoor activities. At the end of each weeklong session, students display their work in an open exhibition. (Campers must bring their own lunch and snacks.) Ages 6–13.
Each child gets a little taste of the arts, nature, history, culture, technology, literature and science when spending a summer at BCAP. This award-winning camp—which works alongside institutions such as the Brooklyn Children's Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden—allows kids to explore, play games and visit two institutions on the program's Cultural Campus. An unforgettable experience is guaranteed. Ages 7–12.
Nothing is off limits for young girls with big dreams, and this summer program proves it. Curious Jane, the masterminds behind the eponymous DIY magazine, offers pint-size artists in the third through sixth grades the opportunity to select a theme for a weeklong program. “Kitchen Chemistry,” “Stop Motion,” “Sew Fun” and “Spy Science” are just a few of the offerings on the menu. Chances are, once the first session wraps up, your little camper will request a return ticket. Extended hours and discounts for families with multiple enrollments are available. Ages 7–12.
Mathematics might get a bad rep in school, but MoMath makes the subject a whole lot more interesting, especially when there’s no homework or tests! Campers are divided by grade level: the Epsilons (first to third grade) and Deltas (fourth to sixth grade). Throughout the week, they tackle creative projects and interactive programs while exploring new and unfamiliar areas of the field that often aren’t taught at school—Perplexing Puzzles and Game Theory, to name a few. When it’s time to refuel, the groups venture across the street to Madison Square Park for lunch, weather permitting. Ages 6–12.
You’ll be seriously jealous of your tech-savvy kids after one of iD Tech’s crash courses in the latest computer skills and software. iD Tech's programs are held at over 100 campuses across the nation and run anywhere from one to four weeks. iD Tech also offers a small student-to-instructor ratio, which means your kiddos get plenty of attention in subjects like Minecraft modding, Java and C++, photography and robotics—buckle up for an epic summer! Ages 7-19.
Little brainiacs love the hands-on activities at this STEM-focused camp! They'll try out cool courses developed in conjunction with MIT, Raspberry Pi and the United States Naval Academy to learn about time and space, robotics and electronics and the human body. Ages 9–13.
Offering great camps for toddlers, kids and tweens with curious minds, Launch Math + Science Center is a go-to for those who are looking to learn more about the world around them. For the Pre-K set, tykes might enjoy a camp that focuses in on things like coding, our solar system or physics. Older kids have the opportunity to partake in coding and animation-dedicated programs, robotics or chemistry! In 2020, check out "I Wanna Be...An Animator!" If your youngsters are feeling inspired by their favorite shows on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, they can design a character of their very own! Launch Math teaches coding, offscreen animation and other tricks, so aspiring illustrators can make their visions a reality. Ages 5–12.
Thanks to the fantastic Wildlife Conservation Society-backed zoos (and aquarium) in NYC, families have the opportunity to see animals from across the globe without leaving the city. The Bronx Zoo—as well as the Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and the New York Aquarium—all invite kids to learn about numerous species through hands-on summer programs. Offerings are slightly different for each location, but youngsters are guaranteed to get up close with all sorts of creatures, explore cool exhibits, conduct science experiments and learn from the zookeepers. Campers of all ages (starting at 12 mos) get to visit exhibits, solve animal mysteries and enjoy the fun. All ages.
Curious minds can explore new areas during this STEAM-themed program. Campers dive into robotics, building their own creations with sensors, motors and LEGO's WeDo software. They can also try out coding, video game creation and animation. Ages 3–12.
Before daring kiddos vie for the top prize in KoKo NYC’s Derby race, they have to build their own cars from the ground up during the Soap-Box Workshop. After gathering materials, making calculations and building their speed machines, tech-savvy campers will test their inventions before the big race, learning STEM fundamentals along the way. On your mark, get set, go! Ages 7–14.
NORY lets children's imagination flourish during its summer camp offerings. With the help of various themes and projects—game design, sports science, inventing for good, to name a few—the program encourages kiddos to try their hand at their own creations with STEM-based learning. Not only will they have the opportunity tackle inventions, but they'll have time to enjoy a few laps in the pool with the Swim & STEM camp or scrimmage against friends in Soccer & STEM. For 2019, NORY will open up three new locations and expand its weekly project offerings. Learn more about the fun that awaits your kiddos this summer. Those who use the code "earlybird" before Feb 15 will receive 10 percent off. Various locations. Ages 3–12.
Young New Yorkers who never cease to be amazed by skyscrapers can imagine and build their own models—after they’ve learned how to handle the design challenges of really tall structures. Similar five-day programs exist for treehouses and bridges, and other offerings allow future architects to study digital design using 3-D computer modeling or old-school freehand drawing. For the latter, campers explore the city to sketch various architectural wonders. In all sessions, participants take home the projects they create. Grades 3–12.
You don’t have to be an advanced engineer to build a robot—at this interactive camp, kids create bots that walk, dance and even swim. Campers will assemble robots of all kinds and test their creations in different environments, plus there are even a few girls-only camps Brooklyn Robot Foundry offers summer camps in various Brooklyn and Manhattan locations, so there's something for everyone. All ages.
Kids can tinker with new tools while exploring STEM and tech at Dazzling Discoveries. The sky's the limit this summer, and campers can choose from topics such as robotics, engineering, coding, science experiments and more. Programs are offered for a variety of ages, so all scientists can hone their skills. Ages 5–17.
If your tyke is the type who prefers beakers to beaches, consider a week of experimentation at Carmelo the Science Fellow. Each five-day session tackles a different science, so there’s something for every budding physician, astronaut or engineer. The emphasis on teaching lab lessons using the interests of kids—such as the chemistry of baking delicious treats or the physics of comic book superheroes—might encourage even classroom-averse children to enjoy the wonders of science. Register here. Ages 5–10.
Explore the galaxy, get an up-close-and-personal look at a Madagascar hissing cockroach and create a unique invention from scratch, all thanks to the New York Hall of Science’s Design-Make-Play Innovation Camps. Broken up according to age, children deep-dive into a particular area of science: animal adaptations (ages 6–7), astronomy (ages 8–9) and STEM (ages 10–13). Museum staffers guide youngsters through activities, exhibitions and projects throughout the session. Upon completion, attendees will receive a certificate and free NYHS student membership for six months—score!
Ever wonder exactly how our bodies function?Camperscanexplorethe mind-blowing science of the human body during this weeklong session
at the New York Hall of Science’s Design-Make-Play Innovation Camps. Your wee anatomists will learn
about the digestive and respiratory systems—they’ll even make a model lung!—as well as how our immune system defends itself from infections. Bonus: All participants receive a complimentary six-month student membership to the museum! Other camps occur throughout the summer for students of all ages. Ages 6–13.
For a full day of screen time parents can feel good about, check out the state-of-the-art technology camps offered at Pixel Academy. With various locations and tools for exploring the new frontiers of computers and programming, children can get hands-on experience working with 3-D printers, developing and creating video games and learning about Volume, a cutting-edge virtual- reality experience that requires no goggles or headset. Campers can enjoy topics such as Minecraft creation, Roblox coding, mobile games and so much more. Additional locations: 256 West St and 1 W 88th St. Ages 7–13.
The WriCampia program in the Poconos is perfect for those craving to pen the next great American novel. Buses transport campers from Manhattan and Westchester for a 12-day escape filled with intimate writing workshops and creative electives. Published authors and playwrights help kids learn the secrets to memoir writing, poetry and what makes a great novel, while campers also enjoy arts activities such as photography, ceramics, theater, zine-making and filmmaking. In the evening, everyone gathers around the campfire to swap stories or test their team-building skills in a scavenger hunt or “escape the room” challenge. Ages 7–18.
Budding engineers will create, problem solve and make incredible memories along the way with McBurney Robotics Camp. Kids will get to dabble in science, technology, engineering and math, but that's not the only thing they'll get to enjoy. McBurney also offers fun traditional camp activities such as swimming and making crafts. Ages 6–8.
Nurture your little scientist with STEAM projects and topics during the summer at Marymount Manhattan. Kids can learn how science is an integral part of catching the bad guys during the CSI course or learn what surgeons deal with on a daily basis with the surgical technique course. There's a bit of everything for all interests: coding, biology, video animation, engineering and so much more. Field trips and swimming instruction are not included in science, engineer and design camps. Grades 4–8.
For young environmentalists looking to make a difference this summer, SALT is the perfect option. The week-long program allows teens to participate in environmental science field work, help restore the Jamaica Bay and Rockaway shoreline alongside various organizations and learn how to kayak and surf in their downtime. Ages 15–18.