Mad Science Camp at TC lets kids enjoy learning about science, technology engineering and math

“It was awesome, said Kevin Simmermaker, 11, who participated in the STEM “Mad Science Camp” this week at Taft College.

Michael White, 12, agreed almost to a word: “I thought it was awesome.”

The Taft College STEM Program is hosting two camps for exiting 6th to 8th grade students this summer, said Rachel Taylor, STEM Outreach Activities coordinator.

The first camp was Monday-Thursday this week and the other is July 28-31, Taylor said.

“It should be a fun and exciting week for these students,” she said prior to the start of camp. “Both are called Mad Science Camp and have a household chemistry theme.

“We'll be doing experiments that use products that students will find around them on a day-to-day basis to hopefully start students thinking that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is not an abstract concept.

“They can learn about household chemistry experiments. Kids learn they can do STEM activities at home.”

The students who participated expressed their enthusiasm:

“It is an experience that I haven’t experienced before,” said Nathaniel Morris, 12.

“This place was epic,” said Seth Yarbrough, 12, after twice changing his choice of adjective.

Jake Morris, 11, said it was the second best thing to ever happen to him.

“This was the best thing in the whole wide universe, except when I had a whole steak to myself for breakfast,” Jake said.

For Lindsi Aunai, 12, “It was a lot of fun. I am coming back next year.”

A few of the activities students took part in were:

•Extracting a strawberry’s DNA;

• Making and launching Alka-Seltzer rockets;

•Designing T-shirts with Sharpie pen tie-dye.

“STEM is around them all the time,” Taylor said last week. “Each experiment will be taught as if we are going through the scientific method each time.

“Students will keep lab notebooks as if they were ‘real’ scientists. We also are attempting to assist students, parents, and teachers by using this camp as a science fair prep or intensive training week.”

“We had fun,” Taylor said Wednesday afternoon, after the conclusion of the on-campus activities. “It was a new experience for us.

“They are very energetic. A lot of them want a STEM career.”

After three days of being on campus, the students and camp staff traveled to the California Science Center on Thursday to explore topics in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, she said. Students explored the different exhibits there and also saw an IMAX movie.

There are about 10 enrolled for the July camp. It will be a fun and engaging week for the community's students in STEM, Taylor said.

For information on the July STEM Camp, contact Taylor at 763-7912 or

STEM Camp is made possible by support from Chevron, Oxy, Wells Fargo and Synagro