State Museum offers free NASA camp for Midlands’ students

COLUMBIA, SC - A grant from NASA and Boeing has made it possible for the South Carolina State Museum to provide an out-of-this-world camp experience for local students.

Rising sixth grader Rasheon Garrett is one of the students taking part in the weeklong camp this week. He says science has not always been his favorite subject, but it's growing on him. "NASA camp is cool," said Garrett.

He's one of nineteen Richland District One students currently learning what it takes to survive in space, down to the bone.

"We were looking at how long it took to break up the bone of an astronaut," said Lauren Gantt, another rising sixth grader.

From experimental hands-on activities, to the chance to talk to a Mars Rover engineer, the weeklong opportunity is called "Summer of Innovation."

"These students were funded by Boeing and NASA, so we were able to offer this camp free of charge," said Meika Samuel, the SC State Museum's Director of Operations. Samuel says a camp like this could cost a parent anywhere from $200-$300 a week, so the grant helps to take the focus off of the cost and instead put a spotlight on education.

"We have a large presence with Boeing [in South Carolina] and aerospace and aeronautics, and then with NASA having all these educational resources, it just seemed like a natural fit to host it at the museum," said Samuel.

Samuel says the curriculum comes from NASA with a focus on STEM learning which is science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Museum officials are confident what they students are learning at the camp will go with them back to school.

"It's an extension of what they're learning in the classroom, so that way when they go back to start the school year they're familiar with the terminology, and they've got a little more practice using the calculators and scientific equipment."

In turn, the camp seems to be creating a love for learning that's also out-of-this-world. "I'm looking forward to learning a lot of things about astronauts, because I'm not very good in science, but I'd like to learn a lot more," said Lauren Gantt.

There will be one more full week of camp for rising 8th graders next week, but the museum says they're hoping to secure funding to offer the camp or after school activities all year long.

If you'd like more information, you can email the museum at or call (803) 898-4999.