Science and Fun with Learning Under the Sun

Hiking through a state park. Cheering on the home team. Witnessing the live birth of a calf. 

These are just a few of the incredible things Washington Township students were able to experience this summer thanks to the Learning Under the Sun Summer Enrichment Camp.

Learning Under the Sun (LUS) is a two-week STEM camp for Washington Township students in 4th through 8th grade. This year’s camp served 130 students representing every elementary and middle school in the District. 

“When the camp was started in 1988, science wasn’t part of the elementary school curriculum, and students were lacking in science standards,” said Tyler Thiems, Assistant Principal at Willow Lake Elementary and current Director of Learning Under the Sun. “This camp was designed to fill that gap.”

LUS exposes students to a variety of sciences through learning activities like 3-D printing, ice cream making, coding, build challenges and so much more. 

“We started Learning Under the Sun out of a love of science, but also knowing that we wanted our students to have good experiences,” said Anne Hair, retired Washington Township science teacher, LUS volunteer and one of the original founders of the camp. “We want kids to understand science is everywhere in your life.”

To achieve that goal, Learning Under the Sun doesn’t take place solely in the classroom. The camp is known for its near daily field trips to locales all across the state. This year’s field trips included state parks, an opalescent glass factory, colleges—even a working farm. 

“My favorite part has to be Oak Farms,” said Alexandra Lah, a returning camper and incoming 8th grader at Westlane Middle School. “We saw a baby cow being born! It was really interesting.”

Most of the field trips have an educational element, introducing students to different STEM careers in line with this year’s theme of Science Works. But others—like outings to an Indians game and the downtown Strawberry Festival—are just plain fun.

“We also want to give students exposure to all the cool things this city and state have to offer,” said Mr. Thiems. “We want to give students experiences they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

To ensure more students have these opportunities, the Foundation provides scholarships for students from every elementary and middle school in the District. Since the start of our partnership in 2014, the Foundation has provided nearly $17,000 in grant funding for Learning Under the Sun.

“We’re really thankful to have the Foundation’s support,” said Mr. Thiems. “It helps make camp more accessible and representative of the Washington Township population.” 

Registration for the 2025 Learning Under the Sun Summer Enrichment Camp will open in late March/early April 2025. Please reach out to Tyler Thiems at [email protected] for more information.

Click through the photo gallery below to check out all the summer fun! If you’d like help the Foundation support more programs like Learning Under the Sun, click here to donate.

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Looking for ways you can support Washington Township Schools? Donate today and help our Foundation support programs to enhance the educational experience for our students and provide resources for MSDWT teachers and staff. 

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