PERU, IL – Illinois science teacher and farmer, Dan Fitzpatrick, knows a thing or two about science camps. He has designed more than 100 such camps. This is his fifth year as Camp Director for the Summer Science Camp in Peru, Illinois. “The Carus-sponsored camp is absolutely my favorite I’ve ever designed,” says Fitzpatrick. “It’s a great way for kids to get a jump start on their STEM skills for the next school year,” he adds.
More parents are choosing science camps over traditional summer camps to expand their kids STEM education. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and some experts say these skills are key to the future of the USA economy. Kids with strong STEM skills have a better chance of securing good jobs by improving their communication, critical thinking and problem solving. Illinois is home to many science camps for kids and this year marks the 19th year of the free Summer Science Camp in the Illinois Valley. The July 26 – 30 camp is sponsored by Carus LLC to promote STEM skills for area sixth graders.
Fitzpatrick thinks the staff and a low teacher to student ratio are key to a successful science camp. “The Carus camp has a great ratio, so it’s very interactive,” said Fitzpatrick. “We bring in local teachers and top science students from St. Bede Academy to assist. The kids have lots of opportunities to conduct amazing science experiments. They build rockets, visit the local water treatment plant, take field trips to study local plant and animal life, and much more,” Fitzpatrick adds. “They also get to use high school science labs which gives them a glimpse into their future, and they also have a chance to explore science careers right here in our community,” he adds.
Fitzpatrick discovered his love of science early while growing up on his family farm outside of Peru, Illinois. “I wrote in my first-grade yearbook that I wanted to be a farmer and scientist and I have truly merged my passions,” says Fitzpatrick. His “day job” is head of the chemistry department at Saint Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois where he teaches science, anatomy, and chemistry. His “other job” is running the family farm where he extends his love of science to include beekeeping, making maple syrup, raising animals, planting crops, installing solar power and much more. “I get to pass along my love of science and farming to the students.”
Fitzpatrick says the very best part of the Carus Summer Science Camp is seeing kids get really excited about what they learn. “I see so many kids that are illiterate about science and that puts them at a great disadvantage. I want them to have choices that lead them to a better life and a better community,” Fitzpatrick said. He hopes his efforts as Science Camp Director make a difference for the kids and community.
The veteran camp director also believes that business partnerships are key to keeping STEM-paying jobs in Illinois. “When companies like Carus get behind STEM educational camps then we have a chance to help them build careers right here in Illinois,” says Fitzpatrick. “It gives them a reason to stay in the community and work for companies like Carus, so it is positive for the kids, community and company!”
MEDIA COVERAGE OPPORTUNITIES: Contact [email protected] to schedule a media interview with Summer Science Camp Director, Dan Fitzpatrick. Also, let us know if you would like to schedule time to cover this event July 26 – 30 at St. Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois.
(Image Caption: Summer Science Camp Director Dan Fitzpatrick shows campers how to make an artificial cloud with liquid nitrogen.)