Friday, July 12, 2024

From solving logic puzzles to learning how to juggle, kids in Cambridge and Somerville have more to do this summer than scroll Disney+ and get in another hour of Roblox. Some programs are even free – or pay.


Becoming media pros

Cambridge Community Television’s Summer Media Institute pays teens from 14 to 18 years old to work as media artists. Students learn how to operate cameras, animate, do graphic design and edit video.

“Once they get the basic skills of how to use each piece of tech and gear, they’re given the space and ability to also start to create their own stories,” said Joshua Arevalo, who co-runs the summer program. “As long as they’re creating content that they’re passionate about or interested in, we’ve completed our goal for the summer.”

The institute, funded by the Cambridge Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, is working this summer with Cambridge Parks on a project featuring Magazine Beach.

“Students will get a chance to visit the park, get some footage of the park and then tell a story around the importance of parks in Cambridge and the world around us,” Arevalo said.

Other activities will include screenwriting and painting old film strips.


Stealing a dragon’s hoard

Joey places a figurine at Dungeons & Dragons Summer Camp at Arts at the Armory in Somerville on Friday. (Photo: Kate Wheatley)

At the Dungeons & Dragons summer camp run by Danger Wizard – a Somerville company that provides dungeon challenges live and online – children in fifth to eighth grade explore and play the classic role-playing game, including developing characters, painting the warrior and dragon miniatures that can stand in for them on a tabletop and learning to run their own games.

This is the camp’s first year, said Knowles, the camp’s head counselor, and “every day is better than the last. The kids have a lot of enthusiasm and a real natural talent for telling stories and playing games.”

The camp runs four hours a day, five days a week at the Somerville Armory for $300 weekly.


Solving for X

Dhruv B. attends the Cambridge Math Circle, which holds its summer camp at Harvard University, on Friday. (Photo: Kate Wheatley)

Cambridge Math Circle Summer Camp is for kids who love math, puzzles and board games. Campers tackle challenging math problems and learn about the lives of mathematicians.

Director Nataliya Yufa said the camp shows kids “the fun and joy of math” and how math is “connected to every other subject.”

Children hear from guest speakers including architects, roboticists and physicists.

Yufa said kids who enjoy solving puzzles benefit the most from the program – not necessarily the natural math whizzes.

“Because we do a lot of logic and we do a lot of hard problems, it’s not necessary that they have to be amazing in their math class,” she said.

Participants must be in third through eighth grade. Extended-day options are available upon request, but the standard cost is $600 weekly, with scholarships available for low-income families.


Rocketing into space

The Summer Rocketry Program is a free, two-week program for rising sixth- through eighth-grade girls and gender-expansive youth that teaches how to build a rocket, spacesuit and model space station. Students also watch a career panel and have the opportunity to meet aerospace scientists.

The camp started as a completely virtual program in 2020, during the Covid pandemic; this year will be its first year fully in-person.

Katie LaBarge, who manages the program, said she hopes it inspires campers to consider a career in aerospace science.

“[The camp] gives them the opportunity to explore careers related to astronomy and aerospace and hopefully see that as an option for themselves one day,” LaBarge said.


Running off to join the circus

Unicycle skills are part of the curriculum at the OpenAir Circus summer camp at Lou Ann David Park in Somerville, where Matthaios Kokkinogenis helped Samantha during a ride. (Photo: Kate Wheatley)

The nonprofit, community-based OpenAir Circus offers courses from juggling and hula hooping to magic and hat manipulation. This is its first year fully in person since the start of the pandemic.

“We teach classes in circus arts as a means of engaging with children on improving their leadership skills and self esteem,” said Peter Jehlen, chair for the circus and a former student himself.

“Growing up as one of the students really helped with my self-esteem and really helped with just being able to engage with people, because I had this fun background,” he said. “I had a knowledge that wasn’t necessarily common.”

To make OpenAir Circus accessible for all members of the community, the program does not require a registration fee; a donation is suggested. “We’re very much a community organization,” Jehlen said.