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15 STEAM Summer Learning Ideas for Students of All Ages

When students leave the classroom for the summer, they lose approximately one to three months of learning. For low-income students who do not have access to regular care or summer camps, they can experience ‘summer learning loss’ at an even higher rate.

Milton Hershey School serves more than 2,000 students from low-income backgrounds, and all students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade have access to enriching summer learning activities within our Year-Round Experiences program. Through a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Camp, students participate in exciting, hands-on activities that expand on their classroom knowledge and build connections between each subject area.

Take a look at 15 STEAM summer learning ideas that can help students of all ages achieve academic and personal growth this summer!

MHS student in science class


  • Create hands-on biology projects—For students who need extra support in biology during the summer months, experiential learning can help them take charge and investigate science outside of the traditional classroom. Challenge students by asking them to create their own algae reactors, or find ways to collect water from plant leaves to develop a deeper understanding of scientific concepts.
  • Plan an environmental science camp—Through daily field exercises during a summer environmental science camp, students get hands-on experience with chemical testing and water supply assessments. At MHS, middle school students visit nearby colleges to practice their skills within local watersheds.
  • Analyze water chemistry—During the summer months, students can spend time outdoors and combine their science, technology, and math knowledge by installing water quality probes in bodies of water. After installing a water quality probe in a campus stream this spring, MHS students will be analyzing the data this summer and looking for trends.
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  • Design rockets—This is a creative summer learning activity that excites many younger students. By designing and launching their own rockets, students learn about flight and motion and develop problem-solving skills through the design thinking process.
  • Introduce technology clubs—To help students get excited for the school year during the summer months, MHS middle schoolers can participate in a summer Technology Student Association (TSA) camp where they learn how to design and create objects through technology-related activities—including catapult design, video game design, CAD foundations, and digital photography.
  • Create electrical circuits with play-dough—Work with students to make insulating dough and conductive dough, and then set up a simple circuit with LED lights to teach students about electronics and technology in a fun way!

MHS students exploring STEAM and technology


  • Build forts with natural materials—To help younger students develop an early interest in engineering during the summer months, plan outdoor adventure activities that allow them to be inventive such as building forts with natural materials.
  • Design nature trails—At the MHS Environmental Center, high school students have the opportunity to maintain nature trails, design new paths on campus, and build fire pits and benches. This type of activity allows students to spend quality time outdoors while making connections to engineering and design thinking concepts.
  • Construct birdhouses—Something as simple as constructing birdhouses can be a hands-on way for students of all ages to understand basic engineering principles—such as creating logical designs and calculating the cost and size of materials.

MHS students in agricultural and environmental education program


  • Offer guided painting classes—To help students get creative this summer, guided painting classes give middle and high school students the chance to practice art techniques with an instructor who will help guide them to a finished product.
  • Organize choral camps—MHS elementary students can sign up for choral camps throughout the summer months. Learning how to express themselves through music and perform in front of an audience can boost students’ confidence and self-esteem.
  • Paint birdhouses—The arts connect to a variety of subjects, especially engineering. As students learn about engineering and carpentry by constructing birdhouses, they can expand on their artistic abilities by painting the birdhouses with colorful illustrations.

MHS student in art class


  • Help students run their own business—As they learn how to process customers’ orders and make business decisions, students can apply their mathematics knowledge in real-world contexts while developing lifelong customer service skills. At MHS, high school students participate in the school’s STEAM Project Market program during the summer—it features a student-run produce stand and ice cream center that supports entrepreneurial instruction.
  • Host a Lego derby—To help younger students learn about concepts like math, gravity, and friction, try planning a Lego derby. Through math-related lessons, students will use their creativity and logic to design cars using Legos. They’ll also experience the friendly excitement of racing them against one another!
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  • Create a MakerSpace—At MHS, students have the freedom to design items in the MHS MakerSpace year-round using knowledge gained from their math classes. When students have the space to bring their ideas to life, that’s when they experience growth—especially during the summer months.

What are your hands-on learning ideas for the summer months?   Share your ideas with us on Twitter!

15 STEAM summer learning ideas

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.