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.
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.
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.
“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.
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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