science camp

Make a Splash with Summer Science Camps

Get recommendations on lab materials and activities to support your summer science.

Summer and summer science camps are right around the corner, and now is the time to select materials and activities. We’ve put together some of our favorite science camp topics to help with planning and purchasing.

In-person, virtual, and to-go options

Whether you’re planning for an in-person summer experience, grab-and-go science activities, or hosting a virtual camp, Carolina has the personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies, kits, and virtual products your students and campers need. Although virtual guidance and teaching may be necessary, hopefully there will be opportunities available for face-to-face, hands-on science.

Carolina simplifies your planning and preparation

During summer, we all need to get our hands dirty and spend some time outdoors. You can do just that with hands-on science investigations from Carolina. We offer products and kits to cover a variety of general science topics, advanced science topics, and laboratory techniques.

Summer science camp topics

Summer science camp is the perfect opportunity to introduce students to STEM careers, let them dig deeper into their own areas of interest, or explore new interests.

Science camps require significant planning—what activities, materials, PPE, and safety equipment are needed? We can help with that by compiling a custom camp order for you, delivered by the date you specify. Explore some of our favorite camp topics below. Many of the activities are designed for face-to-face settings, across the middle and high school age ranges. We’re also more than happy to design a program for you.

No matter the theme of your summer camp, Carolina has plenty of science activities to provide hands-on experiences for your campers.

Click on a link below to jump to the section or browse through all the topics.

Archeology, fossils, and the geologic record

These camps ROCK, literally. Students love dinosaurs, digging in the dirt, and learning about the past. During camp, students can hunt for fossils, examine real fossils, and even create their own fossils. Suitable for upper elementary and middle school students.

Fossil collections

If you are looking for a fossil kit where students can identify their own fossils, this fossil kit offers an economical option using fossil reproductions with the help of an identification guide.

Fossil hunts and excavations

After learning identification techniques, students can go on a fossil dig. Students can uncover and identify authentic plant and animal fossils with this exciting hands-on fossil identification lab. Students can cast their own fossils with the Fossilworks Casting Kit, or they can hunt for and identify buried fossils with the Fossil Hunt Kit.

Geologic history

After students find and identify fossils, help them understand how life has changed over geologic time with this colorful 3-D model that allows students to view fossils in their corresponding rock layers. The Fossil Laboratory Kit contains model fossils that enable students to perform a number of different investigations involving principles of stratigraphic correlation and analysis of geologic history.

Multiple activities in a kit

What can fossils tell us about past environments? This Phenomenal Explorations™ kit guides students to answer this question through the course of 4 activities. Each activity is aligned to grade 3 Next Generation Science Standards* (NGSS).

Biotechnology

Biotechnology is an exciting career field filled with many interesting labs and activities. If you are looking for content for your biotechnology summer camp, our biotechnology curriculum guide can help. Extracting DNA, examining its structure and function, and performing gel electrophoresis are just a few of the activities to pack into a weeklong biotech camp. Suitable for middle school and high school students.

DNA extraction

DNA extraction gives students a hands-on experience unlike anything they’ve ever done before. Younger students will love extracting the DNA from a strawberry or even extracting their own DNA with the DNA Necklace Kit. Older students can extract DNA from E. coli or plants with these DNA extraction kits.

Electrophoresis

Students can learn the basic electrophoresis principles and general techniques by performing electrophoresis with dyes. For more of a challenge, students can perform a restriction digest and electrophoresis on real DNA. More advanced students can couple their electrophoresis with PCR and other advanced topics with the DNA Barcode Amplification and Electrophoresis Kit; the PTC Extraction, Amplification, and Electrophoresis Kit; or the GM Food Extraction, Amplification, and Electrophoresis Kit.

Which Electrophoresis Kit Is Right for You?

Citizen scientists

A Science Action Club kit makes it easy and fun to lead hands-on STEM in afterschool and summer programs. Through games, projects, and exciting investigations, youth explore nature, contribute to authentic science research, and design creative strategies to protect the planet.

The kits include easy-to-follow activity plans, a complete set of STEM supplies, and a 2-hour online, self-paced, professional development training program for staff. The training provides step-by-step guidance for all 12 activities in the unit, as well as important science concepts and helpful strategies for teaching STEM in an informal learning environment.

Three kits are available, each suitable for upper elementary and middle school students:

Comparative anatomy

A camp focused on comparative anatomy gives students the opportunity to perform some dissections while learning more about the structure and function of living organisms. Any dissection starts with a good set of dissection tools, and our dissection mats can help guide students through their dissections.

Suitable for upper middle school and high school students.

Dissection Buying Guide

Comparative organism dissections

Students can dissect 9 animals from different groups, comparing general structures and systems related to digestion, circulation, respiration, and reproduction in the Comparative Animal Dissection Kit. Similarities and differences observed among the specimens lead to further discussions of form and function, trends in shared characteristics, and links between groups. This kit contains everything required for the dissections.

If you want to focus solely on vertebrate anatomy, the Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy Kit gives students a dissection experience in which they explore the anatomy and physiology of 4 vertebrates. Students also consider how the anatomical differences of the animals make them well suited for their specific habitats and roles in the environment.

Additional kits for this topic:

Comparative Mammalian Eye Dissection Kit

Comparative Mammalian Heart Dissection Kit

Environmental science and monitoring

Give students extended environmental science experiences that will give them an understanding of the Earth’s living and physical environment, human environmental impact, and environmental mitigation. From air and water quality to pollution and soil studies, Carolina has a large array of products to choose from. Suitable for middle school and high school students.

The LaMotte® Pondwater Tour Kit is appropriate for grades 4 and up. Introduce hands-on investigation in environmental science using procedures like those employed by professional scientists worldwide. Lead a group of up to 50 students through a detailed study of water quality in a lake, stream, pond, or aquarium.

Put a forensic spin on your environmental science camp with The Case of the Contaminated Creek Kit. This “whodunit” cold case has an attention-grabbing environmental slant. Students analyze macroinvertebrate species, hair samples, glass samples, lip prints, DNA data, and other assorted clues as they try to deduce the mysteries surrounding the case of Crystal Creek.

Other helpful products for an environmental science camp:

Food sciences

A camp focused on food sciences allows students to understand more about the food they eat. Labs on food science can also be a great addition to a cooking camp. Suitable for upper middle school and high school students.

Macromolecule tests

Students perform qualitative tests for sugar, starch, lipid, protein, and vitamin C on standards and control samples in the Food Nutrient Analysis kit. They then use these tests as evidence to support their identification of 2 unknown substances.

In the Introduction to Biochemistry kit, students first perform qualitative tests to confirm the presence of starches, sugars, proteins, and lipids in both standard and sample solutions. They use observations from the sample solutions of bananas at various stages of ripening to then perform their own biochemical reaction and test the results.

Students can dive deeper into the properties and chemical tests for specific macromolecules such as lipids, proteins, or carbohydrates.

Food microbiology

In the Yeast Observation Kit, students learn that yeast have many uses in our everyday lives and observe the process by which these simple microorganisms produce energy from sugar.

A fun and safe way to bring STEM-based learning into the classroom is with the LaMotte® Milk Microbe Hunter™ Activity Kit. Students explore and identify microbes from popular dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and kefir using the innovative LaMotte® BioPaddles®. Explore probiotics, fermentation, pasteurization, and shelf life.

Students can identify bacteria based on their biochemical characteristics with the Enteric Biochemical Detective Kit.

Genetically modified food

Explore a modern application of genetic engineering with the Detecting Genetically Modified Food by PCR kit. This activity investigates whether the soy or corn ingredients in various processed foods contain a genetic modification by isolating DNA from wild-type and GM plant material and from food products of their choice.

Forensics

Forensic science is the perfect topic for a summer science program if you are looking for a truly interdisciplinary science with deep roots in biology, chemistry, and physics. Besides, who doesn’t want to solve a mystery? Our forensics kits provide hands-on forensic studies with real-world application. Suitable for upper middle school and high school students.

Give Your Students Real-World Experiences with Authentic CSI Tools

Crime scene documentation

A serious crime has been committed. In the Crime Scene Documentation Kit, students learn the importance of gathering as much information as possible about the crime scene while preserving the evidence as they work in teams as investigators to reconstruct crime scenes.

Biology topics

With Carolina’s Flowers for Freddy Forensics Kit, students acquire and use botanical knowledge and skills to solve a crime: Who murdered Freddy? Was it the florist in the flower bed, the vegetable supplier in the garden, or the fruit grower in the orchard?

Introduce students to DNA forensics while solidifying their understanding of genetic principles. A crime scene offers opportunities for students to develop skills in presumptive blood testing, blood typing, and DNA fingerprinting.

Students act as crime scene technicians in Caught by a Kiss to figure out which pieces of evidence from multiple crime scenes contain potentially useful DNA information. By detecting amylase activity, students infer the presence/absence of saliva on the evidence.

In the Microscopic Forensics Kit, students go through forensic “training” by observing labeled slides of materials typically found by forensic investigators at a crime scene, including hair, blood, and textiles. After studying the known slides, students are presented with a mock murder mystery to solve.

All humans are born with the same number and type of teeth, but everyone has a unique dental pattern. The One Bite Out of Crime™ kit equips students with the skills that have helped forensic odontologists assess bite marks, identify individuals in mass disasters, and ID remains.

If It’s Sour, If It’s Slippery Forensics Kit is a great choice for your science camp. Using evidence isolated from a “crime scene,” students attempt to identify various solids and liquids based on their pH and buffering capacity. This is a great hands-on way to introduce the concepts of pH and buffers while students try to gain as much information as possible from the evidence given.

Impressions and prints

Students can learn about the basics of fingerprints using a professional grade ink pad to examine their prints and those of their classmates. You can further their knowledge by learning how powders can enhance print ridge detail in the Latent Print Development with Powders Kit.

Help determine the perpetrator from the footwear impressions they leave behind. Expand the kit, allowing more students to make casts of their prints with the Shake-N-Cast™ Kit.

Genetics

Genetics catches the attention of many students taking biology. It’s often the first opportunity students have to understand and visualize the relationship between microscopic and macroscopic properties. If you have students that want to deepen their understanding, here are a few options. Suitable for high school students.

DNA structure and function

Fill a weeklong camp with a single kit. Using pop beads, students model DNA replication, transcription, and translation in the Discovering Nucleic Acids Kit. They later develop an experiment that explores various types of genetic mutations and the effects mutations have on proteins. Students also observe preserved onion root tips to view cells in various stages of mitosis.

If you are looking for more kits to cover more discrete topics, there are several kits that will fit your needs. In this simple DNA molecular model kit, students can explore the process of transcription. You can investigate the process of translation with the Flow of Genetic Information Kit©.

Blood typing

Blood grouping is an important identification procedure performed in clinical and criminal investigations. In this blood group identification kit, students use anti-A, anti-B, and anti-D (Rh) sera to determine the blood groups of 4 different, unidentified aseptic red blood cell suspensions.

An alleged father denies responsibility and refuses to pay child support. Is he the biological father? Identify him—using simulated anti-A, anti-B, anti-D (Rh) sera—to determine the ABO/Rh blood groups of a mother and child and 3 possible fathers in this paternity test kit. Students use their data and knowledge of genetics in the process.

If an infant’s identification tag becomes misplaced, how can mother and child be reunited? With this kit, students can find out while learning fundamental blood genetics.

Drosophila genetics

We have kits available to cover any type of inheritance. Students can study monohybrid inheritance using the Drosophila strains apterous (wingless) and wild type (winged).

For more of a challenge, students can study dihybrid inheritance using the 2 Drosophila mutants apterous (wingless) and sepia (sepia-eyed). Our Drosophila Sex-Linked Cross Kit demonstrates sex-linked inheritance using white-eyed and red-eyed (wild type) Drosophila.

Population genetics and evolution

In this population genetics and evolution kit, students use a card set and genetic corn to gather data about allelic frequencies and phenotypes in a stable population over the course of two investigations. Then they plan, model, and present the results of genetic exchanges that disrupt genetic equilibrium, answering the driving question, “How do scientists recognize that a population is evolving?”

Green energy

Are you ready to teach green energy technologies and help students develop their environmental awareness? Contents and activities included in the Renewable Energy Education Set are designed to demonstrate the workings of a complete clean energy technology system on a miniature scale. Suitable for upper elementary and middle school students.

Carolina STEM Challenge®: Emerging Energies

Engage. Excite. Engineer. The Carolina STEM Challenge® kits introduce real-world design challenges that address NGSS* through the lens of engineering. Emerging Energies titles include:

Health science

Physiology is an area with applications to many fields of study and careers, including sports science, fitness training, medicine, nutrition, and pharmacology. We have a broad range of kits to help you plan. Suitable for middle school and high school students.

Human senses

Exploring human senses is a popular topic for a health science camp. Students can explore the sense of taste or human vision. They can also have fun seeing if they can confuse their senses. Popular titles include:

Circulatory System

Exploring the circulatory system and cardiovascular health are other popular topics for summer camps and can help foster students’ interest in healthcare professions. During camp, students can construct a model of a human heart from clay, or they can gain an even better understanding of how blood circulation works with the Carolina STEM Challenge®: Circulatory System Kit. To better understand blood and blood typing, students can perform blood typing using synthetic blood.

The Physiology of the Circulatory Systems Kit includes equipment for hands-on interactive investigation of heart rate and blood pressure.

Other physiology kits and activities

The Carolina® Reflexes and Reactions kit enables students to study each other’s reflexes and visually evoked reactions using clinically accepted methods and materials. They will explore the neurological difference between a reflex and a reaction as well as the protective value of various reflex mechanisms.

This kidney function kit gives students the opportunity to construct a model of a kidney and observe filtration of simulated kidney blood using a semipermeable membrane. Students filter and test simulated kidney blood with simulated salt test strips and identify microscopic simulated red blood cells that cannot pass through the membrane.

STEM

Easily integrate exciting science, technology, engineering, and math activities into any educational setting with these Carolina STEM Challenge® kits. They engage and inspire students with fun real-world design challenges in an exciting tournament-style format.

Hands-on activities center on engineering concepts and practices from the Next Generation Science Standards. Design teams design, build, test, and modify their prototypes to provide an innovative solution to the class challenge. These activities strengthen students’ critical-thinking and creative problem-solving skills, while encouraging creativity, collaboration, and teamwork. Suitable for upper elementary and middle school students.

This guide can help you find the STEM Challenge® kits that are right for your camp.

Another exciting way to drive STEM home with your students is with Microsoft’s Hacking STEM kits. Microsoft Hacking STEM is a collection of inquiry driven, standards-aligned lesson plans that integrate visualizing data into existing science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum. These hands-on activities engage students in computational and design thinking and situate them in solving real-world problems. The challenges are designed primarily for middle school students but could be used with novice STEM high school students. The kits also come in individual and classroom sets so you can plan for any number of campers.

Robotics and programming

Carolina has a variety of robotics accessories and robotics sets for hands-on learning and fun with science. Suitable for upper elementary, middle school students, and high school students.

Hummingbird™ Robotics

Grades 4–12. Enable students to construct many robotic projects while coding in Snap!, BirdBlox, MakeCode, Python™, or Java™ with individual Hummingbird™ Bit kits and bundles. Students can explore dozens of projects, such as automating an amusement park, modeling human joints, building a robotics petting zoo, and more!

Crazy Circuits® Robotics

Age 14 and up. Learn about programming with the Crazy Circuits® Robotics Kit, which uses Arduino®-compatible microcontrollers. The included robotics board allows students to easily add sensors or servomotors without a breadboard or soldering. Crazy Circuits® are compatible with LEGO® and similar brick building systems and work out of the box.

Cubelets®, Robot Blocks

Age 4 and up. Journey into the world of robotics with fun, educational Cubelets®. This expandable system is the best way to introduce students to robotics and programming as they design and build potentially thousands of different functional robots using the 3 types of Cubelets®. Free K–12 lesson plans are available.

More topics

These are our top picks. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, we’ll be happy to help you find the right activities and kits that will simplify your planning and implementation. If you have questions, please contact us at product@carolina.com.

*Next Generation Science Standards® is a registered trademark of WestEd. Neither WestEd nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.

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