Blog: Bright Ideas

Immersion Summer Programs for Middle School Students Deepen Learning

When you hear immersion summer program, undoubtedly the first thing that comes to mind is language immersion programs, where kids are “immersed” in the language and culture of another country. From the beginning of each day to the very end, they hear the language, eat characteristic foods and classic dishes, and learn the songs and dances of a specific country.

These types of programs are definitely available, but immersion programs are not restricted to world languages. Any subject that interests kids has the potential to support an immersive experience where kids learn by doing. Indeed, immersion summer programs for middle school students have the potential to deepen learning by providing an in-depth study of a favorite academic subject or personal passion. Science, technology, engineering and art can all support immersive experiences that allow kids to major or specialize in their chosen content area.

Components Necessary for True Immersion

Immersion programs offer an opportunity to gain a lot of exposure to a subject in a short period of time. By stepping into a realistic environment and playing an active role, campers quickly become immersed in meaningful learning. Some of the ways this happens include:

  • Playing a role — whether stepping into the shoes of a famous chef, a scientist, engineer, artist or social media producer, kids are encouraged to put themselves in the mindset of the domain by thinking and acting the part. This might even mean adopting a name or title to help further the role play. 
  • Using the language of the discipline — in language immersion, this could be French, Spanish or Mandarin. But in a science or engineering program, it is just as important to talk-the-talk. And just like learning a world language, using precise discipline-specific vocabulary gives kids an edge and a foot in the door, allowing them to speak with authority and credibility.
  • The right environment — language programs provide access to sights and sounds that enhance and expand the experience. This is equally important with other disciplines; a laboratory, design studio or workshop creates the optimal environment for kids to quickly immerse themselves in the experience.
  • Utilize the tools of the trade — much as participants in a language program benefit from exposure to cultural artifacts, such as flags, crafts and clothing, kids in other immersion programs need to see and use authentic equipment and tools. To truly be a part of the experience, kids must have access to resources and learn to handle them like a pro.
  • Learn from knowledgeable mentors — language immersion programs depend on educators to guide the experience, and students of other disciplines rely heavily on the technical expertise of their mentors as well. Whether a professional educator or a working scientist or engineer, it is important that these instructors have not only the core disciplinary knowledge but also the enthusiasm and instructional methods required to motivate and inspire kids. 

The Benefits of Immersion

We know immersion programs work for language learning. They also build skills such as mental flexibility and problem-solving. Imagine the benefits to kids who can immerse themselves in a specific subject or major at summer camp. They learn the language, use the tools and experience the realistic environment of the corresponding discipline under the expert guidance of caring, experienced mentors. But more importantly they view themselves in a future role and play it in a meaningful way. They know their team is depending on them, and they rise to the occasion. Because they are actively engaged in an enjoyable simulation, learning is fun.

Galileo Summer Quest offers middle school kids the opportunity to get off the beaten path and immerse themselves in a familiar passion or a newfound interest. Eleven project-based majors will appeal to and offer an entry point for everyone, including gifted students who are hungry for the chance to deep dive into a subject. Kids who are into cars or who have a need for speed will have fun learning physical science concepts during the week they spend building and racing their own go-karts, while those who appreciate a target challenge will love Catapult Builders. Gamers can choose between Mobile Game Design and Mod Design with MinecraftⓇ, with both offering the chance to be part of a game development team, learning to design and code their own creations. 

Kids with a natural inclination toward activities that really let them flex their creative muscles will love the chance to merge art and science as they dive into a week-long culinary exploration, while performance artists can immerse themselves in video production as YouTube Producers. To experience the latest technology, kids can design and create innovative prototypes with 3-D Modeling and Printing, explore and program Virtual Reality simulations or make and operate their own Robot Pets. And lastly, mystery lovers can orchestrate a Great Escape before then creating their own problem-solving mystery room challenge for their friends to negotiate. These definitely aren’t the traditional immersion programs you may be familiar with—they are so much more.

A Summer To Grow On

Imagine your middle school kids losing themselves in a favorite pastime and giving themselves over to full concentration and immersion. Picture the engagement, hear the specialized vocabulary, feel the excitement. Parents wanting this unique learning experience for their kids have to look no further than the nearest Galileo Summer Quest program, where kids can have a ton of fun getting totally immersed in a project-based subject for a week or more. The skills gained will represent measurable growth, making it a summer of fun and incredible learning.

Check out all the options for summer immersion programs at Galileo Summer Quest Camps in your area: San Francisco, Southern California, and Chicagoland. Sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date on our camp happenings and innovation resources. Or, you can register for camp today.