Summertime STEM: Technology and Summertime Limits

June 25, 2014

As summer vacation is beginning for families throughout our region, it’s a question of balance that comes up between parents everywhere:  How much technology is too much?  And how do we set limits during the unstructured months of summer?  According to the AAP, children today are spending an average of seven hours a day on screen time (this includes TV, computers, phones and other electronic devices.  This is despite the AAP’s recommendation that screen time should be limited to less than two hours a day.

infographic by U.S. Department of Education:

infographic by U.S. Department of Education:

While we are supposed to be limiting screen time, job prospects in technology fields continue to rise.

IT jobs will grow 22% through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A look through the Occupational Outlook Handbook shows that many occupations that are technology-based will be increasing as our children get ready to enter the workforce.

Parents need to ready their children for a technological workplace without letting technology completely take over. It can be quite the challenge for today’s parents!  Here are a few suggestions that inspire children to use technology while at the same time getting them outside and active.  A win-win approach for families this summer vacation!


There are hundreds of geocaches to search for in the Fingerlakes Region!

There are hundreds of geocaches to search for in the Fingerlakes Region!

Geocaching is an activity that is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide.  Outdoor-based, but with a technological twist, it’s a hit with kids and parents alike.  In a nutshell,” Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.” (source:  Geocaching 101)

Biking, Hiking and Walking

Whatever your method of summertime locomotion, there’s an app for that!  Check out Map My Ride (biking), Map My Walk, and Map My Hike to plan your next outdoor adventure.  Kids can use their technology to plan their next route, and these free apps all allow you to document your activity afterward.  You can even share your entries online on social media if you want to keep friends updated on your adventures.

For local fans of Rich & Sue Freeman (Footprint Press, authors of several guide books for our region), did you know you can find many of their trails online?  Check out the links for Take a Hike!  Family Walks in New York’s Finger Lakes Region Guide Book.  Using technology to plan your outdoor adventures can entice kids to go exploring.

Searching for Information

Whether you are planning your next hike or planning a patriotic celebration for July 4th, information abounds online.  Instead of playing games, have your kids explore and research instead.  How many times a day do questions come up?  Questions about nature such as information on the local wildlife, or information on how to fix a flat bike tire or what is the best air pressure to put in your soccer ball for your next game of Word Cup – the stream of questions is limitless.   Let your kids search for answers and fill the rest of the family in on what they have discovered.


31 Day Challenge from Raising Playful

31 Day Challenge from Raising Playful

Taking pictures is a great way to capture memories and document special events.  It’s also a great way to get the kids outdoors in the summertime.  Armed with a digital camera, kids see their environment through a different lens, and often find that they slow down and really take a good look at their surroundings.

There are digital cameras in all price ranges, and chances are you already have one (or more) in your house already that they can practice with.  Giving kids a theme can lend a completely different twist to your regular picture taking!  There are some great ideas online for picture-a-day type challenges.

A couple photo-taking lessons can go a long way in getting archival-quality photos.  Check out these 13 Lessons to Teach Your Child About Digital Photography from the Digital Photography School.  Sharing Your Camera with a Kid also has great suggestions for introducing little ones to the wonder of photography.

Journal Apps, Online Diaraies, and Digital Scrapbooks

If you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, take a look at some of the fantastic new applications available online for documenting the adventures you’ve had this summer.  From Common Sense Media, a leader in providing parents with trustworthy and up-to-date information about online media and digital content, comes a list of 17 apps that are reviewed for you and can be sorted by age, quality, and learning potential.

Safety FirstInternet-Safety-Month

With all of the technology available to our children, information is only a few clicks away.  Unfortunately, danger is just as easy to find online.

June is Internet Safety Month! Take some time to review internet safety with your children this summer, and build lifelong habits regarding safe internet use.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a Netsmartz Workshop that is specifically designed to help parents in this area.  With information for parents, and special sections for teens, tweens and kids, there is a wealth of  information on how to stay safe online.  From blogging and gaming to identify theft and other security issues, they cover a wide range of topics that affect families in the digital age.  There are even videos and presentations that you can download or watch right online.

How is your family embracing technology this summer?  Share your ideas with us!

Summertime STEM: Fizz Boom Read!

June 12, 2014

The library has always been a great place to find summertime activities for children.  This year, with a science theme that brings science and reading together, the result is a winning combination that is sure to entertain the kids and keep their reading skills up – all while doing some really cool science activities! Readers of all ages are invited to participate in science-related activities that include chemistry, robotics, biology, astronomy and much more.

Fizz Boom Read

FIZZ BOOM READ is the theme for Summer 2014 for many libraries around the country, as part of the Collaborative Summer Library Program.

The Monroe County Library System has put together a brochure highlighting activities held at every library in their system, and you can also find library-specific activities online or in person at your local library.

Along with the children’s program, many libraries are offering programs for teens and adults that stay with the science theme.  “Spark a Reaction” is the program for teens, and “Literary Elements” is for adults.  Get the whole family in on the fun!

If you’re looking for ideas to do at home that go along with the library theme, you can find hundreds of ideas online.  Several Pinterest boards devote themselves exclusively to this theme, like the Fizz Boom Read 2014 Summer Reading Program board and SRP 2014 – Fizz, Boom, Pop!  We also have an entire page dedicated to FUN STUFF on the Fingerlakes STEM Hub website.  Check it out!

Of course, while you are at the library you should take a look at the many science-themed books that you can find on the shelves.  From activity manuals to non-fiction fact books, and fictional stories about science to biographies about your favorite scientist, there is something for everyone to be found at your favorite library.  Don’t find what you are looking for?  Don’t forget about inter-library loan, an inexpensive way to check out books from every library in your region, delivered right to your local library for pick up.

Discounted Admission to local museums!

Discounted Admission to local museums!

While you are at the library, check out a V.I.P Pass, which gets you discounted admission to places like the Genesee Country Village and Museum, George Eastman House, GEVA, Memorial Art Gallery and the Rochester Museum and Science Center.

What science-based activities and stories are you looking forward to this summer?  Please share your ideas!


Summertime STEM: Summer Camps

June 9, 2014

Summer Vacation is right around the corner!

Summer vacation is right around the corner!  Our region is filled with opportunities to engage in STEM learning over the summer.  Our Summertime STEM Series of blogs is going to look at a wide range of activities, for kids of all ages and abilities.

In this first installment, we’re going to focus on Summer Camps. Summer Camps are a great way to get immersed in a specific theme or subject. They can range from a couple of days to several weeks, and from an hour or two a day to full day programs, with residential camps an option as well.  Chances are, whatever you are looking for, there is a camp for that!  Summer camp is a summer highlight for many families, so take a look now to see if there’s something that appeals to you.  If you haven’t already, check out our School Break Camps page for a listing of many different kinds of camps in our area.  We’ve tried lot list as many camps in our area that we could find, in a variety of age and price ranges.

Do you have information on a STEM camp that you don’t see listed?  Please share with us and we’d be happy to add it to our listing.

Summer camps are a great way to get activities in without having to do all the planning yourself.  Registrations are well underway, so sign up soon if you are interested.