Middle School FAQs

Engaging and Empirical Education

STEM camps are designed to educate and entertain elementary and middle school students as they develop social and scientific skills.

Many of your questions will be answered below, but let us know if you have more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Elementary & Middle School
1. May I sign my student up on the first day of camp?

Register early. Each camp has limited space and some camps fill up very early, even selling out a month or more in advance. Please follow in order each of the three registration steps. It may take up to 3 days to receive confirmation that your student’s registration is complete. If you haven’t pre-registered and to avoid disappointment on the first day of camp, we recommend you phone (509) 372-7123 to see if there is space available.

2. How do I decide what camp is appropriate for my student?

Consider your student’s interests when choosing a camp. All science and engineering camps are designed to be equally appropriate for boys and girls.

Our elementary school camps are targeted toward students who are entering 4th and 5th grades in the fall. Usually these students are between the ages of 9 & 10, with some exceptions.

Our middle school camps are targeted toward students who are entering 6th, 7th, and 8th grades in the fall. Usually these students are between the ages of 11-13, with some exceptions.

Camp activities are active and are filled with hands-on experiences. They require students to have grade-level reading, comprehension, and math skills. They are taught in English by certified teachers.

3. Can my student still attend a middle school camp if they aren't in middle school yet?

Our camps are designed to be a safe, comfortable, and fun learning experience for all campers. We strive to ensure that students are appropriately challenged and recognize that some students may not yet be in middle school, but are socially-aware, mature, and educationally-ready for these camps. Because of this, we consider students who are at least 10 years old by the first day of the middle school camp eligible to attend only on a space-available basis, meaning that we would have to wait until it appears with certainty that the camp will not reach its enrollment limit.

We will consider a request for a student, under the age of 10, to attend a middle school camp on a space-available basis if he or she has a MAP score of >215 in reading and >220 in math during spring term testing. In addition, we require a teacher recommendation to help us better understand if this student would be ready to fully participate in the Summer STEM Camp experience. Ask for a Teacher Recommendation form by sending a request to STEMcamp@tricity.wsu.edu.

4. Who designs the camp curriculum?

Our goal is to ensure the highest quality learning experiences for our students.

We conducted a national search for curriculum that would be current and engaging, meet national and state standards, and would challenge our students. For the majority of our camps, we selected specific learning experiences from among those offered by a range of nationally-recognized companies, curriculum developed by Federally-funded university experts, and activities created by national professional organizations and societies.

5. Who teaches the camps?

Teaching at summer camp is a highly sought after opportunity so we can be very selective in hiring our teachers. We seek teachers who have a passion for and experience in teaching hands-on science and engineering. They must also have a track record of success in managing a diverse classroom. 100% of our teachers have current teaching credentials in the State of Washington. Over 80% of our teachers have at least one advanced degree. All have passed rigorous background investigations.

6. What is the student to teacher ratio?

There is typically one certified teacher and one camp counselor for every 24-30 campers.

7. How is the camp staff selected?
  • Teachers: First, we promote any teaching position openings within public and private schools, colleges and universities in our region. Then, we put our potential teachers through a two-step screening process. Some of our requirements are STEM teaching experience, skills in problem-based learning, and enthusiasm for hands-on learning. In addition, once individuals are background and reference checked, instructors are required participate in curriculum and safety training.
  • Counselors: Our Camp Counselors are adult students at WSU Tri-Cities. All counselors have passed a background investigation and are required to participate in curriculum and safety training.
  • Volunteers: All potential volunteers must be at least age 16, and must complete an application and interview process. Volunteers typically include students from area high schools, teacher education students from WSU and Heritage University, industry professionals, and retired professionals. Volunteers provide valuable assistance for our camps and are wonderful role models for our campers. Volunteers are always supervised by paid camp staff when with our campers.
8. What is the Student Information Packet?

The Student Information Packet is the final and most critical part of the registration process. Once completed, it will contain important information that will help our staff coordinate the best possible experience at camp for your student. Because we value privacy and some information we ask for is confidential, the Student Information Packet will only be shared with WSU staff on a “need to know” basis.

Please do not email or upload the Student Information Packet online. 

Instructions for downloading, completing, and submitting the Student Information Packet may be found here. We must have one Student Information Packet per student attending any camp(s) mailed to us in order to reserve space for them. We are unable to permit students to participate in camp if we do not receive it.

9. Are lunch and snacks provided?

Yes, lunch will be provided each day of every camp. A healthy snack (including water) will also be available during a morning and afternoon break time. Lunch and snacks are included in the cost of the camp.

Students are encouraged to bring a water bottle clearly labeled with their name; water is the only beverage allowed in the classrooms and only in transparent bottles. Food is not allowed in the classrooms and both food and beverages are not allowed in the computer laboratory.

We will consider your student’s special dietary needs during lunch as questions related to food allergies and intolerances are included on the first page of the Student Information Packet.

Students are welcome to bring their own lunch marked with the their name. Unfortunately, we do not have refrigerated storage for use by students but a microwave is available for student use.

Lunch breaks are 1-hour and snack breaks are 15 minutes long.

10. What if my student will be bringing their own lunch and snacks?

There is an option for parents of students bringing their own lunch and snacks each day of camp to receive a $30 registration discount. Please contact the Program Coordinator by email at STEMcamp@tricity.wsu.edu or phone at (509) 372-7123 to make this arrangement prior to registering your student.

Under this arrangement, students will be unable to receive a meal ticket for the lunch line and will not be given a snack pack during break times.

Unfortunately, we do not have refrigerated storage for use by students, but a microwave is available for student use.

11. What does my student need to bring to camp?

All supplies and materials students will need for camp will be provided for them. If there will be any exception to this, parents will be notified by email.

Students are allowed to bring a backpack or sturdy bag, clear water bottle, a hat, and sunscreen (all marked with your family name). Only clear water bottles are allowed in the classroom. Other beverages and beverage containers are allowed in lunch bags for drinking during the lunch period.

Your student should wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes that are appropriate for active and sometimes messy camp activities. Short shorts, low necklines, dresses, open-toed sandals and flip-flops are not appropriate for camp participation.

We discourage bringing personal items such as games, toys, or electronics as these can be distracting to other students. Note that we are not responsible for the damage or loss of any personal item.

12. What is the policy for personal electronic mobile devices?

In today’s connected world, youth are accustomed to having a smartphone in their possession at all times. While this has its advantages for both parents and students, there are limitless possibilities for what may occur while a student is using their smartphone at camp. We allow students to bring personal electronic mobile devices such as a smartphone and tablet to camp, however, we also enforce a strict policy surrounding appropriate use for the protection and safety of all campers.

Students will not be allowed to display their phone or other mobile devices during the times camp is in session, usually while in the classroom and labs. This policy prevents students from being distracted during camp instruction and allows them to concentrate on their projects. Students should keep their devices in their pocket, either on silent mode or turned off. If the device becomes a distraction or if this policy is not being followed, it may be necessary for camp staff to confiscate the device for parents to claim at the end of the day.

Students will be allowed to use their devices during break times and lunch time. As a reminder to parents, students under the age of 13 should not use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and musical.ly. Students at least 13 years of age posting to social media should be reminded that if they include any other persons in their post, they should always ask for that person’s permission, even if they are friends.

WSU Tri-Cities Summer STEM Camps is not responsible for the damage or loss of any personal electronic mobile device.

13. What should my camper wear?

It is important that campers are comfortable so they can concentrate on participating. Many experiments will have wet or messy or active components. We recommend casual clothes such as jeans or shorts. To ensure safety, we require that all campers wear closed toe shoes.

Students with open-toed shoes may be asked to not participate in camp activities until they make arrangements for other footwear to be delivered to camp and are able to change into closed-toed shoes.

14. Do you provide transportation?

WSU Tri-Cities Summer STEM Camps does not provide transportation to or from camp. Parents must provide transportation for their camper. Some families purchase bus passes from Ben-Franklin Transit; see http://www.bft.org/products-page/product-category/bus-pass-summer-youth-pass/.

15. Could my student use public transportation (Ben Franklin Transit)?

Ben Franklin Transit serves the WSU Tri-Cities campus. The transit system allows children, age 6 and older, to ride the bus unaccompanied by an adult. Ben Franklin Transit’s bus operators are trained to assist riders and assure they arrive at their destination.

A covered bus stop is located on Sprout Road adjacent to the WSU Tri-Cities campus and Hanford High School. The stop is identified with a blue, gold, and white sign with the Transit logo and indicates Route 26.

The student will be responsible to walk to and from the bus stop to the camp unaccompanied by an adult.

Please check with Benton-Franklin Transit to verify routes and times.

It is the parents’ responsibility to purchase and arrange bus transportation. For information call 509-735-5100 or visit www.bft.org.

If your camper will be using the bus for any transportation to or from camp, you must indicate so on the Student Information Packet.

16. What do I need in order to pick-up my student at the end of each camp day?

Please pick up your student promptly at the end of camp each day; no after camp care is provided.

For the safety of our campers, we require photo identification from each parent/guardian every day for their camper. While we might know you by name and have seen you a dozen times, please do not be offended when we continue to ask for photo identification.

Whomever comes to pick up a camper must be listed on that camper’s Student Information Packet and must also show photo identification; if he/she is not listed, we will not be able to release the camper to that person’s care.

Campers are released by a staff member only to those persons authorized by the parent/guardian on the Student Information Packet. Anyone checking out a student from camp must sign out the student and show picture identification each day.

The only exception to this policy occurs when parents/guardians provide written authorization for their student to be released from the above policy because of the student’s use of public transportation or transportation via bicycle; this is provided by the parent/guardian on the Student Information Packet, page 3. If your student will be using one of these alternative forms of transportation and will not be picked up from camp, you must provide authorization as noted above.

17. May I stay with my student?

Parents/guardians may walk with their student’s group to the designated classroom on the first day to ensure their student is seated comfortably. Parents/guardians are always welcome to observe their student from outside of the classroom. However, we have found that giving your student enough space to allow them to interact with other students creates a better camp experience.

18. How do I know what my student is doing at camp?

A weekly schedule describes the projects and activities for the week. Parents/guardians, grandparents, siblings, and other friends, are invited to come to “Big Event” on Friday of each camp week to interact with your student with projects and activities he/she has been learning during the week. The time and location of Big Event will be on the curriculum sheet as well as posted on bulletin boards outside of the check-in/out station.

You can reinforce what your student has learned each by asking questions about that day’s projects, when your student returns home after camp, or having him or her explain that day’s concepts to you and to other siblings.

19. What is the “Big Event?”

Each camp culminates with a “Big Event” on Friday. We invite the family and friends of our campers to campus to see the action and take pictures of these fun events. Big Events typically last between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the size of the group. More information is available on the camp website and is posted by the check-in/out station.

20. Can I attend a rocket launch?

The best way to attend a rocket launch is to arrive at least 15 minutes early. Remember to bring your camera, sunscreen, hat, and a lounge chair. Rocket launch is held on the athletic fields of Hanford High School. Take George Washington Way until you reach Sprout Road. Look for the white tents along Sprout Road. Parking is at the curb. Please exercise caution when leaving your car and crossing the road to reach the launch site.

21. Do the students leave the camp site?

Camper safety is our number one priority. For this reason, students do not leave the campus during camp hours until they are checked out of camp by an authorized parent or guardian. No off-campus field trips are associated with these camps.

22. How are restroom breaks conducted?

Restroom use is encouraged at the morning and afternoon breaks and at lunch. Should a student need to use the restroom at any other time, precautions are taken to ensure camper security. Middle school campers must request permission to leave the classroom for restroom use; one camper at a time will be released during non-break periods as bathroom buddies are not allowed.

23. Do you provide before and/or after camp care?

We do not provide care before or after camp sessions. Please arrange prompt drop-off and pick-up of your student.

24. What happens if my student is involved in a disciplinary issue?

We reserve the right to remove from camp any student who is disruptive. Inappropriate language and/or behavior will not be tolerated. If a student is unable to correct his/her behavior, we may call the parent/guardian to pick up the student before the end of the camp day. Any student who persists in disruptive behavior may be dismissed from camp without any refund of fees.

25. What happens if my student is late for the start of camp?

If this should occur, the student should seek out a camp staff member to check-in and catch up. Your student may miss important instructions so please make every attempt to be prompt each day.

26. Do I need to report my student’s absence?

While we appreciate advance notice, we know that the unexpected does happen. If your camper will need to miss a day of camp, please notify us as soon as possible by sending an email to STEMcamp@tricity.wsu.edu or giving us a call at 509-372-7123. We will inform instructors so they can help your student catch up when they return.

27. What happens if my camper misses a day of camp?

Missing a day of camp means that the student will miss an important part of the learning process which may not be able to be “made-up.” For projects that are team based, the student’s team will proceed with work. If you notify us in advance, we can have camp staff work with your camper on potential catch-up work.

28. What do I do if I need to reschedule my student’s camp week?

Contact us right away if you need to reschedule your student’s camp week. Changes between camps are possible only on a space available basis. For an additional fee and based on space available, we can switch your reservation to another camp.

  • Notification of 30 days or more prior to the start of the originally scheduled camp: A $40 change fee per camp applies if changing camps at least 30 days prior to the start date of the originally-scheduled camp.
  • Notification of less than 30 days prior to the start of the originally scheduled camp: If you notify us less than 30 days prior to the start date of the originally scheduled camp, a $50 change fee per camp applies.

Please contact our Program Coordinator at STEMcamp@tricity.wsu.edu or by phone at 509-372-7123 to address any registration issues.

29. What if I need to cancel my student’s camp week?

A $125 fee per student per camp will be charged if you cancel a camp 30 or more days before the start date.

No refund will be given if you cancel less than 30 days prior to the start date.

Please contact our Program Coordinator at STEMcamp@tricity.wsu.edu or by phone at 509-372-7123 to address any registration questions.

30. What if my student has special needs?

Please indicate these needs in the Student Information Packet. If your student has special needs, some accommodations may be available so please let us know at least four weeks prior to the first class. To further address these accommodations, please contact us by email at STEMcamp@tricity.wsu.edu or give us a call at 509-372-7123.

31. Will WSU staff administer the medication my student needs during the day?

We are unable to administer medication to students. If your student requires a dosage during camp hours, please make appropriate arrangements.

32. What if my student gets injured or ill while at camp?

The Lead Teacher will document any situation that results in an injury and will contact the parent/guardian as needed or, in an emergency, will contact 911 and then contact the parent/guardian.

33. Will I be able to contact my student if there is an emergency?

If there is an emergency situation and the parent must contact their student at camp they can call our Camp Registrar at 509-372-7123 or the campus general information line at 509-372-7000.

34. Is the camp staff trained in safety procedures?

All of our teachers and counselors have received safety training from WSU. The campus also has an emergency response plan and an on-site Safety Manager.

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