The Science Near Me blog is a partnership between Discover magazine and ScienceNearMe.org.
Summer’s not over yet! Though many families are already wrapping up summer road trips and looking toward the beginning of another school year, there’s still ample time for curious people — of any age — to squeeze in some more summer fun (and learning) before temperatures drop.
With Science Near Me, a free resource that gathers STEM opportunities from around the country, you can browse science-based activities and experiences in your area, from biologist-led nature walks to summer stargazing, after-school kids camps to 21+ pub events. Using the Opportunity Finder, you can narrow your search by area, type of activity, age range and more to find one that’s right for you. Science Near Me also lets you search by themes: Look for camps, star parties, festivals and much more!
Below, we’ve curated a few events and activities from around the country happening this summer. Go check them out if you’re nearby, or just use them as inspiration to search for your own activities to round out the summer.
Nature can be the ultimate playground for hungry minds — at any age! Outdoor science labs and classrooms take advantage of the wonders of the natural world to spark excitement and curiosity while teaching us about the plants, animals and natural processes happening around us.
You can find nature-based programming and learning at outdoor labs like the Pelican Nest Science Lab in Fairhope, Alabama. Participants get hands-on at the beach on Mobile Bay with nets, compasses, binoculars and more, and can even take their samples back to the lab for analysis.
Or, take a self-directed approach to learning with the Explorer’s Backpack program from the New Hanover County Arboretum in North Carolina. Elementary-age children will find everything they need for a day of discovery in themed backpacks, including the Eye Spy, Bird Explorer and Native Plants Explorer's backpacks.
Learn about nature while lending a hand with monthly native garden clean-ups at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium near Los Angeles. Learn about the plethora of native species in the garden from the education team while keeping their habitat sparkling clean. If your idea of a day outside simply involves going for a nice, long walk, don’t forget, there are nature reserves all around the country to check out, like the Hirundo Wildlife Refuge near Bangor, Maine, where you can hike and even borrow canoes free of charge.
Dive Into the Night Sky
With warm nights and (hopefully) clear skies, summer is a great time for stargazing. With just a simple telescope or even a pair of binoculars, the night sky reveals a bounty of amazing celestial objects, from planets to galaxies to gauzy nebulae. Finding your way around the heavens can be intimidating at first, but local astronomy clubs and observatories, like the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin, around the country are here to help.
Organizations like the Houston Astronomical Society offer star parties and other hands-on events that let even novice stargazers explore the cosmos. You’ll find plenty of telescopes and knowledgeable guides at a local star party eager to share their enthusiasm for astronomy with you. There are always unique events happening in the night sky, too, like the upcoming opportunity to observe Saturn and Jupiter at opposition (that means Earth is directly between the Sun and each planet).
Add Some STEM to Your Vacation
If you’re hitting the road this summer, there are plenty of ways to make your roadtrip a STEM-cation. Vacationers heading to South Dakota’s Black Hills and Mount Rushmore National Memorial can drop by the former Homestake Mine, where today the Sanford Lab conducts particle physics experiments. You can take a guided tour of the facility and learn about the experiments happening a mile below your feet.
No matter where you’ll be in the United States this summer, whether on the road or at home, Science Near Me has STEM opportunities for you to find. Use the Opportunity Finder to get started, or just browse the site to see what looks fun. Happy end-of STEM summer!
If your organization offers events, projects or programs that invite the public to engage in STEM, add it to Science Near Me!