You know that feeling you get when you’re watching the clock wind down as you wait for the for the weekend at work –  minute by minute the excitement builds, until finally, the clock strikes 5:00pm. 

This week, however, it’s a little different. Your children – or any school-aged child in your life – undoubtedly went through those exact motions on Friday afternoon as they watched the clock from inside their classroom, waiting patiently for the bell to ring to kick-start their March Break.

For parents, one week without a normal school routine can be tricky – to say the least. How do you fill 168-plus hours in a way that is exciting, educational and fun for your child?

Fortunately, we live in a region that is rich with community resources that are just as excited about STEM – science, tech, engineering and math – learning opportunities for kids as we are here at Volta. There are plenty of options to choose from. Some programs are free, some you can drop-in, and others require registration.

If you haven’t nailed down your child’s schedule for March Break yet, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of just some of the camps, programs and workshops across Halifax Regional Municipality that engage, inform and entertain kids of all ages, while getting them excited about STEM concepts.

Kids Learning Code

Image source: Canada Learning Code’s Eventbrite page

Kids Learning Code, a Halifax chapter of Canada Learning Code, is hosting a Generative Art with Processing Workshop for children aged six to eight-years-old. It’s taking place right here at Volta on March 16 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

This workshop will focus on teaching the fundamentals of computer programming in a visual context, and highlight how simple mathematical equations can create beautiful and engaging outcomes.

Processing builds upon the Java language, and is often used in electronic arts, new media art, and visual design. The application itself allows anyone to code in something called a Sketchbook, where programs can be saved and previewed instantly. Learners will use geometrical shapes and lines to create interactivity with their mouse and keyboard, and use colours to create visually intricate designs! Click here to register.

Discovery Centre

Image source: Discovery Centre’s website

In addition to their general programming that focuses on educating kids in exciting, engaging ways, the Discovery Centre is also offering two STEM-themed camps this week.

The first one, Weather Wizardry-2019 is all about the excitement of meteorology. It covers topics such as lightning, tornadoes, hail, sunshine and more. Kids will be split into two groups – aged five to seven, and those aged eight to 12 – so they receive the right level of challenge, activity and enjoyment in their respective sessions.

The second one is Digital Discovery Camp 2019, a collaborative partnership with Digital Nova Scotia. It aims to inspire curiosity and confidence when working as a team and in developing technical skills. Topics include video game development, coding, robotics, and hardware. There will also be special guests and opportunities to meet professionals in the ICT fields.  Past Digital Discovery Camps have even included visits to Volta.

Check out their website here for more information or to register your child in either of the camps.

If you’re looking for more of a one-day visit to the Discovery Centre, their featured exhibit, The Science of Ripley’s Believe it Or Not, is sure to captivate and educate all ages. In this exhibit, you can crawl through a life-sized model of the largest snake to have ever lived (Titanoboa); get a good look at a real meteorite from Mars, or take a photo inside a Megladon Shark Jaw.

Halifax Public Libraries

Image source: Halifax Public Libraries’ website

The Halifax Public Library offers so many learning opportunities for individuals of all ages throughout the year, extending well beyond just borrowing books. This March Break, local libraries are hosting a series of workshops, training programs, events and demonstrations to spark an interest in STEM learning for kids.

Some programming requires pre-registration, but other activities, such as the interactive Fortnite-themed Science Fair (Fortnite will not actually be displayed during the event) or the 3D Printer Demonstrations, are open for drop-ins.

There will be many Mad Science presentations, lessons about electricity and sculpting (Shamrock Squishy Circuits), Slime-brary, LEGO Olympics and much, much more. Visit the Halifax Public Libraries website for a full schedule of events and activities.

SuperNOVA Science Camps

Image source: SuperNOVA’s Facebook page

SuperNOVA at Dalhousie University has partnered with Halifax Public Libraries to host a series of workshops throughout the week for children interested in coding and robotics. No experience is necessary.  

Children in Grades 4 to 6 who are new to Canada, are invited to register for Science Camp for Newcomers. It’s an action-packed week, full of science and engineering activities at the Keshen Goodman Public Library on Lacewood Drive in Halifax. Sessions run from 9:00am to 12:00pm each day. To register, phone 902-490-6410.

They are also offering a Computer Science Workshop for kids on Monday, March 18 from 10:00am to 11:00am at the Cole Harbour Public Library. This workshop teaches students how to program a robot using a variety of codes and instructions. The program will feature Ozobot Evo, a tiny robot capable of enormous things. To register, phone 902-490-3820.

Mad Science Maritimes

Image source: Mad Science’s Facebook page

Mad Science is all over town this week. In addition to leading multiple workshops at various Halifax Public Library branches, Mad Science is also offering a March Break camp called Crazy Chemists. There are two sessions – from 8:30am-4:30pm, or from 9:00am to 3:30pm – at the Shambhala School, located at 5450 Russell St. in Halifax.

The Crazy Chemists Camp is open to kids aged five to 12, and will teach them all about the chemistry products they encounter at home and at school each day. They will discover chemical reactions, and will be able to determine if one has happened right before their eyes. Children will mix, mush and brew together different chemicals to create unique, useable concoctions in this hands-on chemistry lab. Visit their website here to register. 

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