PORTLAND, Oregon — As kids venture off to summer camps, Engineering For Kids is trying to build an experience that’s equal parts safe and engaging.
“When you do things and you make things, I think that’s the essence of being an engineer,” said Mei Wang, director of Engineering For Kids, Portland Metro.
If the essence is in the build, the payoff is in the adjustments you make along the way. Especially in the world of COVID-19.
“I think after being stuck at home for so long, you can tell they are very excited to be back in a different but still social environment,” Wang said.
Engineering For Kids has been around the Portland area since 2012 and they focus on—you guessed it—engineering for kids. Wang said it’s been no small feat to stay open for this year’s summer day camps and make sure kids are still engaged.
“Of course we are strictly following all of the government's rules and regulations and guidelines regarding COVID-19,” said Wang.
The camps take place at eight area locations every week until the end of August. This week’s theme was “Inventor’s Workshop.”
“Basically it’s a little robot with a motor there, and we have some coloring pens attached so the robot can move around and draw on the paper.”
The campers are separated into two age groups with a morning and afternoon session every weekday. The 4- to 7-year-olds were using small motors to turn cups into drawing machines. The 8- to 12-year-olds made miniature paddle boats.
“We would really like to inspire them through the summer camp to know that engineering is something fun, something you can build on to learn so many other things,” Wang said.
For parents who aren’t yet comfortable sending their kids in to a camp, there is an online camp option with pre-recorded courses so the kids learn at their own pace.
Not only have they taken precautions against a pandemic, but they are making sure kids are completely protected due to smaller numbers this year.
“We want to ensure the parents: Your kids are safe with us. We are trying to take all kinds of considerations to ensure the safety and health of each one of our kids,” said Wang.
In a field all about problem solving, Wang hopes they can inspire the next generation.
“Try to get kids who don’t have confidence or interest in engineering: Get to our camp and our program and learn how to enjoy it. And learn that engineering is something that can be fun.”
Camp sign-ups can be found on the Engineering For Kids website.