Santa Maria museum offers special camps this month
The Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum is offering a Robotics Camp and a Discovery Space for Children this month.
The Discovery Space camp will run 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 20-23 for children ages 6-10, and the Robotics Camp will run 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 27-30 for children ages 8-14.
The camps are taking place even though the museum hasn’t reopened yet to the public. Management is hoping the reopening will take place early next year and sees the students’ camps as a kind of soft reopening.
Standard COVID-19 precautions such as mask wearing and regular hand washing will be followed. The children will be in cohorts, which will allow for contact tracing if necessary. Additionally, cleaning products, which reportedly have been shown to kill the COVID virus, will be used on all equipment both before children arrive and after they leave for the day, according to the museum.
The robotics camp is being offered in partnership with the Orcutt Academy Spartatronicks Robotics Team and the Righetti High School Astra Club, who will be providing counselors for the robotics camp.
For children who want to pursue robotics in high school, “it helps to have a foundational knowledge of coding,” Donna Beal, the museum’s program manager, told the News-Press.
The camp is designed to help lay the foundation of coding for children who have an interest in pursuing robotics in their high school career.
“The robotics camp really offers an opportunity to focus on coding in robotics. We also offer quite a bit of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math),” said Ms. Beal.
She described what children would be doing during the robotics camp.
The work on the robot starts with its brick, which is the robot’s brain, and the children have to figure out how to build it out from there.
The robot doesn’t have wheels. The kids have to determine what size wheels to use. which determines coding. A sensor is attached to the brain, and children must build an arm in for the robot to complete its mission.
The activity is designed to develop engineering skills.
The Discovery Space camp features both the Vandenberg Launch Experience, an exhibit that allows children to launch a rocket. and the Celestial Ceiling, new planetarium software that the museum installed during the pandemic.
The museum sees the camp as an opportunity to introduce the Celestial Ceiling to the community.
The camp also includes activities such as making a paper rocket and learning about rockets and the moon, including how its craters were formed. Children will also learn about nebulae.
And the camp will feature a five-step game where children will get to imagine they’re astronauts on Mars.