Pinhead Institute: Summer is for STEM

Pinhead Institute: Summer is for STEM

Telluride’s Pinhead Institute offers range of STEM camps throughout the summer season.


A student engrossed in (This Is Not) Math Camp.


Summer is upon us and things are heating up at the Pinhead Institute. This season, the nonprofit is offering exciting new and tried-and-true STEM camps for young artists: Minecraft gamers, fledgling doctors, engineers, and – thanks to a total solar eclipse coming soon to U.S. skies – even astronomers.

“We’re lucky in Telluride to have a regular roster of kids clamoring for our favorite summer camps like robotics, which allows us some freedom to launch new camps as well,” said executive director Sarah Holbrooke.

Pinhead Mini Missions, a series of Monday through Thursday half-day summer camps designed to teach kids new skills, get them thinking creatively, and even shed light on potential career paths. Those classes kick off in Ridgway the week of June 12 with a Lego Robotics Boot Camp for ages eight to 14. The program repeats in Telluride the week of July 24, while Lego Robotics Junior, for five to eight year olds, runs in Telluride during the week of July 3.

Pinhead is also thrilled to partner in bringing Telluride’s first ever Camp Invention to the Telluride Intermediate School, June 19-23. A program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, innovators in kindergarten through sixth grade will brainstorm, collaborate, and build prototypes during a week-long STEM immersion based upon a carefully vetted national curriculum.

“Telluride Intermediate School principal, Chad Terry, heard about the camp and we were thrilled to be asked to partner on this new program. We’re excited to see how it goes and if the student’s enthusiasm matches our own for this new curriculum,” said Holbrooke.

Minecraft gamers ages nine to 13 will learn coding necessary to make “mods” or modifications to their existing worlds during Minecraft Madness! (June 26-29), while Maker Mania! (July 17-20) will continue Pinhead’s popular makers program held at the Telluride High School STEM Lab during the school year.

“A number of our students are huge Minecraft fans, and since having fun is the best way to learn, we decided to run a camp,” said program director Jessica Tenenbaum. “Many aspects of Minecraft are very educational, and it’s a great platform for learning basic coding skills.”

Engineers ages eight and up will learn the principles behind bridge-building and help build a real bridge during Pinhead’s perennially popular Bridge Camp (Aug. 7-10). The following week (Aug 14-17), Nature Rangers ages five to eight will earn their ranger badges as they head outside to explore our local ecosystem and watershed.

Continuing an ongoing creative collaboration that explores the intersection of art and science, Pinhead will partner with the Ah Haa School for the Arts to offer Art Alchemy for kids ages six to eight and Integrative Art: the Beauty of Science, for students 13 to 18, during the week beginning July 31.

Also during the week of July 31 last year’s sold-out (This Is Not) Math Camp for kids in sixth through eighth grade will return to offer opportunities to tackle puzzles, strategy games, mazes, and other fun-filled – and sometimes unconventional – activities designed to engage kids and get them excited about the amazing properties of mathematics. The camp was developed in consultation with 2008 Colorado Teacher of the Year and Telluride’s own Seth Berg, and Pinhead is excited to offer it again.

“It’s not what you think….that’s why we’re calling it (This is Not) Math Camp. You don’t have to love math, or even like math, to have a good time,” Tenenbaum said. “We spend a lot of time solving puzzles, learning party tricks, and illustrating cool geometry – and it all demonstrates how math is around us everywhere.”

For students eighth grade and above who are contemplating a career in medicine, PreMed Camp (July 24-27) will give them a hands-on taste of the wide world and nitty gritty of the field. Medical professionals and a Pinhead instructor will discuss various medical specialities, teach kids how to take basic vital signs, lead heart dissections, and more. Students can also expect to participate in patient assessment role play and practice suturing.

“This year we’re covering a broader range of heathcare professions including pre-hospital care/emergency medical services, nursing, physician assistance, and medical doctor,” said Pinhead program manager Claire Carver. “We’ll also talk to current med school students and a doctor in residency to hear from people going through the process of becoming doctors right now.”

Pinhead Institute is also pleased to continue it’s summer camp collaboration with the Telluride Academy to bring three exciting week- or two-week long camps to town. They include Citizen Science (June 12-22), Campfire Chemistry (July 10-20) and the ever popular, out-of-this-world Blast Off! Rocket Camp (Aug. 7-10).

Last but not least, in celebration of the total solar eclipse that will be visible in U.S. skies in August, Pinhead will wrap up its summer offerings with a celebratory Solar Eclipse Camp (Aug. 18-21) for first through sixth grade students. Campers will learn all about eclipses through hands-on, interactive projects, model building, and visualization activities, while brushing up on their star-gazing and creating solar art.

The program culminates in a public Eclipse Viewing Party where the newly-minted eclipse experts will share what they’ve learned with the wider community.

For more information or to register for Pinhead Institute summer programs, please visit

More about Pinhead:

The Pinhead Institute is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and Smithsonian Affiliate based in Telluride, Colorado that educates and inspires children and adults in the greater Telluride region about the wonders of science and technology through engaging programs, direct interaction with scientists, and unique research-centered internship experiences.

To learn more visit: or call 970-369-5190.

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