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Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and Legislators Get Lesson in ‘STEAM’ at Children’s Museum Camp

Inside the butterfly house, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and state Sen. Derek Slap watch as campers plant milkweed. Children's Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Children’s Museum in West Hartford hosted the lieutenant governor and members of the legislative delegation Monday for a tour of its reopened camp program.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and Camp Director Sara Horowitz outdoors at the Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, accompanied by state Sen. Derek Slap (D-5th) and state Rep. Tammy Exum (D-19th) paid a visit to the Children’s Museum in West Hartford Monday for a firsthand look at how the Summer Vacation Science Camp is back open and offering STEAM educational opportunities.

The programs are small – operating in separate cohorts with a maximum of 10 children in each – and provide a mixture of indoor and outdoor experiences, Director of Operations Beth Weller said.

The Summer Vacation Science Camp, which has a different theme each week, is open to children entering first through sixth grade.

While regulations established for summer camps do not require the use of masks or other face coverings, the Children’s Museum is requiring them.

“The kids don’t mind the face masks,” Children’s Museum Executive Director Michael Werle said.

This week’s them is “Excellent Engineers,” and inside the Museum a group of campers crafted boats out of tinfoil, testing their buoyancy as they piled pennies inside, adding a bit of math to the science aspect of the project, Weller said.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz watches as two campers craft boats and fill them with pennies to see how that impacts their buoyancy. Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Outdoors, a group of campers were enjoying a discussion about “Kitty,” the museum’s tortoise, being led by counselor Kate Barrett.

Campers responded to questions about the what Kitty’s shell is made of (bone), and what she likes to eat, as the tortoise munched on a yellow squash. Her food preference, Barrett said, is actually food items that are red or pink.

Counselor Kate Barrett speaks with campers about Kitty the tortoise, showing them what the underside of the shell looks like. Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“She has sharp teeth but not as sharp as a snapping turtle,” Barrett told the campers.

The campers also had a chance to engage in activities inside the Museum’s butterfly house, where Monarch butterflies feast on milkweed and sun themselves on colorful plantings.

Campers plant milkweed inside the butterfly house at the Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The in-person camp experience, which began June 29, followed nine weeks of virtual camps that began during April vacation, Camp Director Sara Horowitz said. The one-week sessions are run weekdays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

More information about the Summer Vacation Science Camp can be found here.

The Museum also reopened its exhibits to the public on June 29, and is requiring the advance purchase of a ticket for a specific time.

Werle said the Children’s Museum is continuing the process of planning for a move from the current location – which is owned by neighboring Kingswood Oxford School – to the former Hartford College for Women property just over the line in Hartford.

He said negotiations are still ongoing with the University of Hartford, which owns the property, but the design of a net zero energy building – what he said will be the first net zero public building in the state – are underway.

“We have started down that process,” Werle said, and thus far have raised about $500,000. The design should be complete by Sept. 1.

The Children’s Museum also reopened its preschool/childcare operations on June 11, after it had been closed for several months, and currently has 21 children enrolled in three classes, Weller said. The facility is licensed for 45 students.

Bysiewicz said the state estimates that 45,000 childcare spaces will be needed to be reestablished or reopened in order to get people back to work.

Lt. Governor Bysiewicz will visit the summer vacation science camp program at West Hartford’s Children’s Museum to promote the various STEAM educational opportunities available to students throughout the summer. The summer vacation science camp program reopened on June 29 for children entering grades 1 through 6. 

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Creating boats at Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Creating boats at Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and state Sen. Derek Slap with Camp Director Sara Horowitz and a camper at Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, standing next to a velociraptor, meets with staff and campers outdoors at the Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Counselor Kate Barrett speaks with campers about Kitty the tortoise outdoors at the Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Outdoors at the Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Counselor Kate Barrett teaches campers about Kitty the tortoise. Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kitty the tortoise. Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (left) and counselor Kate Barrett speak about Kitty the tortoise outside the Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Monarch butterflies are living in the butterfly house at the Children’s Museum in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Monarch butterflies are living in the butterfly house at the Children’s Museum in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Inside the butterfly house at the Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Monarch butterflies are living in the butterfly house at the Children’s Museum in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, state Rep. Tammy Exum, state Sen. Derek Slap inside the butterfly house at the Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Children’s Museum Vacation Science Camp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Monarch butterflies are living in the butterfly house at the Children’s Museum in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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