Science Summer Camps

Parent Q&A

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  • My rising 7th grader was SO bummed that Lawrence Hall of Science no longer seems to be offering day camp for middle schoolers this coming summer. Any alternative suggestions for science-focused day camps in the East Bay for middle schoolers?

    Kids for the Bay is a great hands-on naturalist camp. Only draw-back is that you have to drop the kids off at a different location every day. Traffic was tough sometimes. 

    Cal Outdoor Adventures at the Berkeley Marina has a science-y bent to it, marine stuff and they go out on a research vessel one day. My 13 yo (who is more of a science guy than an outdoorsy guy) liked it a lot in summer 2022.

  • I'm looking for summer programs for a high schooler in the bay area. Would prefer something that is engaging and skills-based but also focuses on teaching science. A colleague of mine recommended the Berkeley Summer Institute. They focus on accelerated learning and cognitive training. She says she knows the faculty and course that it's based on and spoke highly of it, but I want to know what else is out there similar to this. I like the focus on neuroscience and the lab tours and the price is reasonable, but anything at Stanford similar to this? Or maybe other UC Berkeley programs? Thanks in advance! 

    High school students can take college classes for college credit during the summer at either the community colleges or at Cal. Why mess around with a "program" when you can take real Chem 1A?

    My daughter took the Cognitive Neuroscience class via ATDP (courses for high school students offered on the Berkeley campus) one summer and really got a lot out of it.  Worked insanely hard.  Professor Bulakowski was great. -- looks like one section is full and the other is almost full.

  • Hello all,

    I am looking for summer camps with specifically hands on science experiments for my 6th grader. She is 12 and LOVES making slime, experiments with eggs etc. If you know of any camps that do the above and more, please do share!



    Did you look at Camp Edmo? My kid made slime there, as well as pop rockets, ice cream and more. As they got older they also moved into some science and nature programs. Take a look at their website. They have a Berkeley location, as well as a few others in the East Bay, and more.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Science & Math Camps that Girls Actually Attend

Aug 2013

Our rising-5th grader attended two different science and math camps this summer, and in each, she was the only girl. She enjoyed the material at each camp, but she doesn't want to go back to either; she'd just doesn't enjoy being the only girl, and I can't blame her. Of course, either camp could have girls next year -- maybe we just had really bad luck? -- and we can try to get friends to sign up with her. But, aside from that pursuit, what options are there? Has your middle school daughter gone to an awesome academic science or math camp? Maybe even an all-girls camp? We're looking at things more academic than, say, Galileo - great when she was younger, but now she wants something more than fun! science! projects! Or does the Galileo program get more serious for older kids? We're in Oakland and the commute to ATDP just doesn't seem manageable. Would really appreciate any suggestions. Anne

My son went to the Algebra in Motion class at the Berkeley Quantum camp . There were only 4 kids in his class (which was pretty awesome in terms of learning and attention). There was one girl, but it's such a small sample it's not meaningful. But, in the spring, when I registered him I called the office and they told me who was registered (by age and sex). So, easy for you to check. My son was really jealous of the science class where they were blowing things up. It's at the BART station, which is convenient. I was really impressed with the hands-on approach they seem to take, although I have no way to judge the academics. Although I failed, I think it's helpful to recruit a friend to go to the same class. If you get a chance, please post a review of the camps she went to! Anne

Hi, my entering 6th grade son attended summer camps at Lawrence Hall of Science last two summers. According to him, about half of attendees were girls(not confirmed). So far he took Animation, Build it up, take a part, Electric Gadgetry and he loves the camp because instructors are nice and open to new ideas. Also camp attendees were engaged in the programs therefore less distractions.

He attended Camp edTech in Moraga and there were many girls too.

I wish ATDP was closer to home too... Molly

My daughter is a rising 6th grader and definitely a math/science kid. We also live in Oakland. We also do a lot of afterschool enrichment (Berkeley Math Circle, she did a year of the QuantumCamp afterschool classes and camps, etc.)

Don't discount ATDP , even from Oakland. The camps are really, really good. And balanced, gender-wise for both students and teachers. My daughter has gone for three years and really enjoyed it. And if you pair it with the Cal camp in the afternoon, you have a whole day. There are also a lot of opportunities for carpooling from Oakland, minimizing the drive time. We had a full (!) carpool of 5 kids in Montclair/Piedmont, but even after that was arranged I got a half-dozen calls from other parents looking for carpools.

My daughter has also enjoyed the iDTech camps (although the camp she did was less balanced by gender than ATDP), and Quantum Camp (just be aware that the Berkeley location is right on top of the downtown Berkeley BART station -- a plus from a transit standpoint, but sometimes less so because of the atmosphere of the plaza outside). At Quantum, two of her three teachers have also been women which, for me, is a bonus. LH

I know you said that the ATDP commute seemed a bit much, but I will put in a plug anyway. My sixth grade girl (going into 7th next week) did the trig program this summer and really got alot out of it. Although it was predominantly boys there were many girls as well. We combined it with the 6th grade writing program, (she didnt want to do the Cal Adventures camp), which made for 4 full days. We carpooled from Oakland with another family (alternating pick up and drop off). Although it IS out of the way, most days the commute was around 20 mins each way. It is a serious program (day one was rough, she wasnt sure she was properly prepared with her public school math background)but the teacher and assistant were excellent and she now has a much greater appreciation and understanding of math principals and is looking forward to doing the program next year (on the Berkeley campus). I can't speak for the science program, but we were very happy with the math and writing. Worth the commute

Summer chemistry for middle schooler

Jan 2013

My sixth grade son is currently obsessed with chemistry and the periodic table, and I'd like to find him a summer program where he can explore it a bit beyond the baking soda/vinegar level of experiment. Looking at science camps, there seem to be a lot of tech-oriented opportunities available, but not chemistry for this age. The programs I've found are all for younger kids or require a level of algebra he hasn't had yet. East Bay or Marin locations are best for us, but for something really great I'd be willing to drive farther. Any ideas welcome! liz

Check out in downtown Berkeley. My son took one of their chemistry classes fall 2012 --level 3 which is 5th/6th grade -- explosions, experiments, weighing stuff, acids, flashes -- he loved it. Janis Chun was his excellent instructor, she has moved on to other ventures, but hoping the new person is also good. anon

Summer Physics for high schooler?

Jan 2011

I would like to find a high school physics course that is taught over the summer. This could substitute for the class that is taught during the school year. Does anyone know of one? Failing that, can anyone suggest any type of summer physics offerings? Anon

I highly recommend Tilden Prep on Solano Ave in Albany. 510-525-5506 The school offers excellent college prep classes taught by engaging teachers who know their subjects well. The course can begin at any time and the student works at his own pace. Our son completed his AP Chemistry class there during the summer - a very challenging course - and had a great experience. He is now finishing his senior year and has been accepted to the four colleges he has applied to. Mom

Physics & engineering for 8 y.o

Jan 2009

I'm looking for good ideas for a few summer camps/classes. My son would spend all afternoon watching The Elegant Universe on on string theory, if I'd let him. He's passionately interested in math and physics and engineering. I'm just wondering what else is out there besides LHS and lego engineering at EC city daycamp. I wish we could do several half day classes, as the all day ones are usually out of our price range - and I don't really need him to be gone from 8-5! jenny

Check out Cal's Academic Talent and Development Program [ATDP], run by their school of ed. My 2 kids had a great time last year.

You might be interested in ATDP , run by UC Berkeley. See Betty

Google the ATDP (Academic Talent Development Program?)summer camp offered by UC Berkeley and usually held near Richmond Annex or Point Richmond (I think). My friends kids like this program and there is a bunch of hands on opportunities for working with science. I think a kid who likes mechanical stuff would find this program interesting. You do need to apply and perhaps get a teacher's signature. Look for it online, and in the archives of this site. Science Mom