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Camp Descriptions

Pre-K camps

Little Scientists

Let your little one (ages 4 & 5) observe, explore, and experiment with the world around them, and answer their own "Why?" questions in this half-day camp. Campers step into the shoes of a scientist and take a look at topics like the sun, animals that live under rocks, and how plants grow!
  • Learn to observe the world and nature using the senses
  • Play with simple machines
  • Explore cause and effect with experiments and games


K-1 camps

Baby Animals

From cubs to fawns to pollywogs—explore the world of baby animals! Learn why some need to be nurtured for months, while others are ready to run, jump, or fly right away. Also, discover how they survive in the wild.
  • Learn about all different kinds of baby animals and meet some of them up close
  • Discover why some babies are ready to run, jump, or fly minutes after being born and why others need to stay with their mothers or fathers for a longer period of time
  • Explore the stages of growth of a young animal via metamorphosis

Wings, Beaks, and Feet: Birds

Find out what all birds have in common and discover some of the unique adaptations that help them survive in extreme environments. Campers will go on field hikes to test their ability to hear different bird sounds, and practice finding birds in our urban world.
  • Get up close with live owls, eagles, and hawks at The Raptor Center
  • Learn how birds fly, swim, build nests, and what they do in the winter
  • Practice watching for birds in different habitats by sight and by sound

Life Without a Backbone: Invertebrates

Get up close and personal with Madagascar hissing cockroaches and other insects, worms, hermit crabs, arachnids, and other incredible invertebrates. Learn about their biology and the important role they play in the natural world.
  • Get up close and personal with worms, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, and other exciting invertebrates
  • Build insect traps and observe honey bees in their hives
  • Meet with an entomologist and visit the U of M Insect Lab

Mammals Among Us

From pygmy shrews to blue whales, duck-billed platypuses to spiny anteaters, discover the differences and similarities between members of the class Mammalia. Explore the Bell's dioramas to find which mammals live in Minnesota, their habitats, what they eat, and how they compare to mammals around the globe!
  • Learn about some of the most bizarre members of Class Mammalia
  • Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bell's mammal collection in St. Paul
  • Learn to identify and classify mammals
  • Examine skulls to learn how mammals eat
  • Play games that explore the food chain

Nature in the City

What is nature? Can you find nature in the city? Learn where our food comes from. Find ways to help conserve the natural resources in our city. Learn how to attract native pollinators to your backyard, and to help preserve habitat within an urban environment.
  • Take a trip to a student-led organic farm, right here on campus
  • Meet people who study and manage wildlife or work with animals in the city
  • Learn how to create natural habitats that attract animals in your backyard
  • Learn how to look for animals, plants, and insects in backyards and urban green spaces

Junior Scientists & Engineers

What do scientists and engineers do? Each day campers will use scientific and engineering processes to solve a problem or answer a question. They will explore scientific concepts as they observe and experiment to understand how things work! Like engineers, they use various materials to plan, design, test, and redesign.
  • Explore scientific and engineering concepts
  • Design and conduct experiments
  • Design and build an invention to solve a problem

Scales & Slime: Reptiles & Amphibians

Can you guess which animals climb glass, carry babies in their mouth, or have "antifreeze" in their blood? From salamanders to snakes, learn about the remarkable adaptations that are a part of the everyday lives of reptiles and amphibians.
  • Learn data collection techniques scientists have used while studying these amazing creatures
  • Identify features that distinguish reptiles and amphibians and learn what they have in common
  • Meet our resident reptiles and amphibians and learn how we take care of them, and study their amazing adaptations


2-3 camps

Art in Nature

Our senses help us investigate nature's many colors, textures, patterns, sounds, and scents. Campers will try their hand at Gyotaku—Japanese fish printing—and making paper from scraps and natural objects. They will learn to sketch out what they see! At the end of the week, campers will host a theatrical performance or an art show.
  • Examine color and design in nature
  • Explore how different patterns help plants and animals communicate in terms of breeding, warning, or finding food
  • Practice crafting with natural objects, storytelling through use of movement and sound, and as a form of record keeping

Botany, Potions and Magical Creatures

Dig into your favorite mystical and magical subjects! Unravel how animals change in appearance, learn about levitation by experimenting with magnets, discover the mystery behind animal mimicry and carnivorous plants, and practice your hand at different chemical reactions!
  • Experiment with magnets and learn about levitation
  • Learn about metamorphosis, animal mimicry, and disguises
  • Study and dissect plants, and learn about their amazing adaptations

CSI: Nature Investigations

Meet a crime investigator and learn about forensic science. Campers will focus on evidence collection like fingerprints, shoe and tire impressions, and trace evidence. Learn to use nature's clues to help solve mysteries and crack the case!
  • Meet real crime investigators
  • Learn the fundamentals of identification and classification by using plant and animal evidence found at crime scenes to crack the case
  • Practice and refine your skills of observation and questioning
  • Solve a mock crime with help from the University of Minnesota Police Department

Earth, Cosmos and Beyond

What are stars made of and how do they burn? Are there other solar systems out there? And what can invisible light show us about the universe in which we live? From space travel to black holes, we'll investigate our place in the universe with telescopes and rockets.
  • Explore the stars, planets, and solar system
  • Discover what causes the seasons and how our solar system creates different weather
  • Learn how astronauts prepare for their trips, and how rockets take flight
 
Field Biology
Live a wildlife biologist's life by studying living flora and fauna, and their relationship to the environment. Learn how to track and observe animals using field skills like binoculars, reading a compass, keeping a logbook, safely and effectively using specimen collection tools, and more.
  • Collect  insects and plant samples like a field biologist
  • Count animals, record observations, and track data
  • Learn to use field equipment and track animals
  • Practice using a compass
  • Meet with a field biologist and learn about their work

Mighty Earth

We live on an ever-changing planet, one that is mighty! Spend the week investigating Earth's geological processes and natural disasters including volcanoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes.
  • Find out how the earth’s layers were built and how they change throughout time
  • Learn about extreme weather, volcanoes, and earthquakes
  • Perform hands-on experiments with minerals and rocks
  • Meet a scientist who works in the earth sciences

Our Climate: Weather & Climate Change

What are the forces behind the Earth's weather and what causes it to be so diverse. How has Earth's climate changed over the course of time—how is it changing today? Spend the week exploring these questions and learning how meteorologists create forecasts.
  • Find out how the sun, light, wind, water, seasons, and extreme weather are all connected
  • Experiment with some of the tools meteorologists use to create your own weather predictions and chart the week's weather
  • Learn what the researchers are saying about how the climate is changing and develop your own informed opinions

Paleontologist at Work

Ever wonder what it was like when trilobites ruled the ocean-covered earth, when the biggest dinosaurs roamed land, air, and sea, or when giant mammals thrived during the ice age? Roll up your sleeves this week and learn how paleontologists examine skulls, teeth, and fossils to discover the history of life on Earth.
  • Find out what kinds of things lived in MN when it was covered by ocean
  • Examine skulls of prehistoric mammals vs their modern cousins
  • Learn about what paleontologist do while out in the field and back in the lab

Scales & Slime: Reptiles & Amphibians

Can you guess which animals climb glass, carry babies in their mouth, or have "antifreeze" in their blood? From salamanders to snakes, learn about the remarkable adaptations that are a part of the everyday lives of reptiles and amphibians.
  • Learn data collection techniques scientists have used while studying these amazing creatures
  • Identify features that distinguish reptiles and amphibians and learn what they have in common
  • Meet our resident reptiles and amphibians and learn how we take care of them, and study their amazing adaptations



4-6 camps

Amateur Entomologist

Invertebrates are amazing! Learn about the different kinds—from worms to crustaceans, to insects, arachnids, and beyond. Study their biology and the roles they play in the rhythms of life by observing and collecting them in their natural habitats.
  • Collect insects from variety of habitats and learn how to preserve them for scientific collections
  • Observe and explore life cycles; learn about honey bees and why pollination is so important
  • Visit the University’s Insect lab and meet an entomologist

Amateur Ornithologist

Discover the tricks of the bird biologist's trade! Campers will practice identifying birds in the field by looking at their silhouettes, knowing what kinds of habitats certain birds live in, identifying different flight patterns and distinct characteristics on bird bodies and in their song.
  • Practice Identifying bird calls and silhouettes
  • Observe birds in the wild and learn to identify species
  • Learn how scientists study birds and try taking observations in the field

Backyard Chemistry

What do scrambled eggs, a first-aid cold pack, and soda pop have in common? Chemistry! Spend the week testing physical and chemical reactions, discovering a substance that doesn't have a liquid state of matter.
  • Learn basic chemistry concepts and meet a U of M chemist
  • Launch pressurized air rockets
  • Play with surface tension and see how different simple reagents interact with each other

Botany, Potions and Magical Creatures

Dig into your favorite mystical and magical subjects! Unravel how animals change in appearance, learn about levitation by experimenting with magnets, discover the mystery behind animal mimicry and carnivorous plants, and practice your hand at different chemical reactions!
  • Experiment with magnets and learn about levitation
  • Learn about metamorphosis, animal mimicry, and disguises
  • Study and dissect plants, and learn about their amazing adaptations

CSI: Nature Investigations

Meet a crime investigator and learn about forensic science. Campers will focus on evidence collection like fingerprints, shoe and tire impressions, and trace evidence. Learn to use nature's clues to help solve mysteries and crack the case!
  • Meet real crime investigators
  • Learn the fundamentals of identification and classification by using plant and animal evidence found at crime scenes to crack the case
  • Practice and refine your skills of observation and questioning
  • Solve a mock crime with help from the University of Minnesota Police Department

Earth, Cosmos and Beyond

What are stars made of and how do they burn? Are there other solar systems out there? And what can invisible light show us about the universe in which we live? From space travel to black holes, we'll investigate our place in the universe with telescopes and rockets.
  • Explore the stars, planets, and solar system
  • Discover what causes the seasons and how our solar system creates different weather
  • Learn how astronauts prepare for their trips, and how rockets take flight

Engineering in Nature

Inventions like Velcro and bullet trains have their origin in nature. Campers will explore how plants and animals use engineering to respond to obstacles, and learn how humans use nature's ingenuity to solve problems. Wear an engineer's hat and design and test your invention!
  • Use the engineering design process to build an invention to solve a problem
  • Learn how animals themselves are engineers
  • See modern marvels of engineering and learn about the animals that inspired them

Field Biology

Live a wildlife biologist's life by studying living flora and fauna, and their relationship to the environment. Learn how to track and observe animals using field skills like binoculars, reading a compass, keeping a logbook, safely and effectively using specimen collection tools, and more.
  • Collect  insects and plant samples like a field biologist
  • Count animals, record observations, and track data
  • Learn to use field equipment and track animals
  • Practice using a compass
  • Meet with a field biologist and learn about their work

Our Climate: Weather & Climate Change

What are the forces behind the Earth's weather and what causes it to be so diverse. How has Earth's climate changed over the course of time—how is it changing today? Spend the week exploring these questions and learning how meteorologists create forecasts.
  • Find out how the sun, light, wind, water, seasons, and extreme weather are all connected
  • Experiment with some of the tools meteorologists use to create your own weather predictions and chart the week's weather
  • Learn what the researchers are saying about how the climate is changing and develop your own informed opinions

People & the Planet: Sustaining Our Future

Why should we care about the planet and its changing climate? How can we make small, yet meaningful changes in our daily lives to contribute to the planet's long-term sustainability? Dig into the science behind the answers to these questions and learn how to be respectful and responsible stewards of our local and global community.
  • Learn about the ways our everyday actions impact the planet and the environment around us
  • Discover some of the new and old(!) technology that has been/is being developed to help humans be better stewards of the world around us
  • Experiment with and see how simple habits you can do at home can make a big difference
  • Explore what we are learning from research about what is most harmful to the planet, what is most beneficial, and how average people like you and me can help

STEAM Up!

Through creative thinking, collaboration and communication, art will be blended into the four STEM Disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Campers will participate in problem solving, conducting experiments, designing for beauty as well as for function.
  • Set up experiments or engineer a new product to demo at the STEAM FAIR the last day of camp
  • Take apart different types of old toys and machines to see what is inside
  • Learn about famous scientists and artists
  • Use math in science and in art through different activities—Discover all the ways math is used in our daily lives

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Contact us:
The Bell Museum
of Natural History

10 Church St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
612-626-9660

bellmuseum.umn.edu

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Contact us:

U of M Tickets and Events
Northrop
84 Church St SE, Ste 13
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Phone: 612-624-2345
https://tickets.umn.edu
Email:  umntix@umn.edu

Hours:
Mon - Fri: 10 AM to 5 PM