Registration Now Open For Martz-Kohl Observatory Summer STEM Camp

Campers will learn about telescopes, night sky objects, and other aspects of space.

FREWSBURG — Registration is now open for the Martz-Kohl Observatory’s summer 2024 Space STEM Camp.

The observatory is partnering with Falconer Central School to offer Chautauqua County students entering grades seven through nine a week-long day camp from July 15 to 19. There are 24 slots available for the upcoming year with a $50 registration fee.

Mary Plumb, director of technology and STEM for Falconer Central Schools and Space STEM camp director, said the idea for the camp came from another student’s experience.

“We came up with the idea for a regional Space STEM Camp after a student we know went through the scholarship application process and attended a Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama,” Plumb said. “Knowing the local resources available at Martz-Observatory, and local physicists and astronomers, it seemed very plausible that we could provide an amazing experience for students locally. We knew the resources existed, we just needed to organize efforts and people to facilitate a camp.”

Plumb said the first camp held last year was a big success. She added that people should be interested in having their children attend because it allows them to learn more about space and the industry’s impact on the world.

Registration is now open for the upcoming Summer STEM Camp put on by the Martz-Kohl Observatory. Submitted photos

“Chautauqua County Space STEM Camp is a week-long engaging and exciting day camp experience for students,” Plumb said. “Campers learn about telescopes, night sky objects, and the physics of light and rocketry, all of which are engaging hands-on experiences with huge ‘wow’ factors. Students and their families become acquainted with the Martz-Kohl Observatory staff and programming, and learn all about the quickly-growing space industry and its implications in the world today.”

At this year’s camp, the camp includes a day trip to the Challenger Center in Olean, where students will participate in a simulated mission on Mars. Students build their own Galileo-style telescopes, learn how to program the 24 inch telescope to take photographs, experiment with and learn about light waves, build and use spectrometers, discover focal points and explore reflections.

“We will build and launch rockets carrying fragile payloads, and learn all about our night sky,” Plumb said. “They will have opportunities to hear from guest speakers, to view the night sky at the observatory at night, and to view the sun through a solar filter. Campers should expect an activity-packed week with new friends and knowledge they can take with them for a lifetime.”

Tom Traub, Vice President of the Martz-Kohl Observatory, Chairperson, Education Outreach said the camp is important for the observatory to be able to continue their commitment to the community.

“This camp helps us to meet our commitment to both the community and educators to promote the space sciences,” Traub said. “It is a special chance for the observatory to interact with the youth on a more one on one basis to both teach and inspire the student to learn and enjoy the science of Astronomy and Space oriented Science. We also see how the elements of STEAM are intertwined in how we discover, understand and present the wonders of the universe to both the students and others. We hope to stimulate within the students their ability to ask questions and explore answers and to also think outside the box for possible solutions.”

He added that the intention is to keep the camp running as long as it remains sustainable and that there is a committed partnership between Falconer Central Schools and Martz-Kohl Observatory to continue to provide this experience for Chautauqua County students.

Plumb said the observatory hopes that children who participate in this year’s camp will learn many new things.

“With any experience like this, educators hope to inspire students to reach outside their comfort zones, to learn new things, to dream up new ideas and to take academic risks to answer questions or solve problems,” Plumb said. “At a minimum, we hope to encourage a love of looking at the night sky and to attract new amateur astronomers to make use of the observatory and its programming. At best, we hope we inspire kids to pursue paths that ignite their curiosity and empower them to address the needs of future generations in responsible and creative ways.”

Another goal, she said is to make the week a week to remember for every camper and that the team of teachers and volunteers “is so excited to offer this camp to our youth. The experience is out of this world.”

For more information and to register for the camp, visit https://martzobservatory.org/space-stem-camp/. Registration can be completed online or on paper.


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