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Science Camps Will Put Curiosity to the Test

There are still one-week sessions available to break the boredom of August.


Parents: This is your second notice. If you missed out on getting your kids into a day-camp program in the first half of the summer, and now the whole family is going stir-crazy, don't despair.

Even though it's August, there are still some programs available around the Valley and Ventura County--especially for kids interested in science and art. All are a week long, but can be strung together to keep the kids busy until school starts.

Parks in Santa Clarita, Encino, Thousand Oaks, Moorpark and other locations have, for the past few years, hosted a series of well regarded programs for kids from kindergarten through sixth grade, conducted by an educational company, Science Adventure. Each week has a theme--space, animals, physics and mechanical gizmos.

According to Dennis Gass, recreation supervisor for Conejo Recreation and Parks District, "It's a real hands-on thing. They [the Science Adventure instructors] make learning enjoyable. It's one thing to read about science in a textbook but another to actually do it."

Gass reports that enrollment has grown during the three years the program has been held at Triunfo Park in Westlake. "Word has gotten out," he said "and it gets more popular each year."

Troy Brown, who schedules park programs for the city of Santa Clarita, reports having had to move the Science Adventures activities this year to a larger facility--Newhall Park.

Science Adventure, with its staff of licensed teachers and museum professionals, conducts programs in park facilities statewide, in which more than 25,000 kids have participated. Tina Moskowitz, who lives in Van Nuys, is regional coordinator for the Valley and Ventura and says it's things like "squirmy wormies" that attract the kids.

"They also like to take things apart and put them back together," she says. "Kids often ask, 'Can I take these parts and use them on something else?' " She refers to this as "the McGyver effect," a reference to the popular TV series, which portrays solving complex mechanical and scientific problems as something exciting.

And Moskowitz has her own sly explanation for why the lead characters in the movie "Independence Day" are able to figure out, practically at a glance, how to get into and operate an alien flying saucer. As kids, she says, smiling, they probably had a chance to go to something like "Gizmos, Gadgets & Goop" or "Rocket Launch" camp sessions.

The other names given the various themed weeks, "Wacky Wizards Workshop," "Fabulous Physics Factory" and "Animal Explorers" are also a little hokey but, as Brown has observed over the years, "The children are always happy."

Science Adventure Camps: Available at these locations: Calabasas, Grape Arbor Park; Encino, Balboa Park; Santa Clarita, Newhall Park; Woodland Hills, Pierce College; Moorpark, Moorpark College; Oak Park/Agoura Hills, Oak Canyon Park; Westlake, Triunfo Park.

Hours for half-day sessions: 9 a.m.-noon Monday through Friday; fee, $105 per week. Full-day sessions: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; fee, $180 per week. Scholarships are available. For details, call (800) 472-4362.

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