For three weeks this summer, 770 kids from 40 different communities as well as several countries converged on Pike School in Andover to experience everything from cake decorating to roller-coaster physics.
It was all part of Kaleidoscope, a summer enrichment program designed to keep students’ brains engaged over vacation in a fun, but educational way.
Director Janis Baron, a former principal, founded Kaleidoscope in 1981 when her children were preschoolers.
In its 33 years, the nonprofit program has grown from offering six classes to 50 students over a one-week morning session to 170 courses taught by more than 100 instructors spread out over mornings and afternoons during three weeks in July.
Baron describes Kaleidoscope as more school than camp. The program offers in-depth learning experiences in topics of high interest to children ages 3 to 13 that run the gamut from balloon twisting and puppet making to chemistry, geology and Lego robotics. Fun is incorporated into the learning process, Baron said, but the emphasis remains on the learning.
“A lot of learning can take place in summer,” she said.
For 19 years, Kaleidoscope was based at Andover’s West Elementary School. It’s been taking place on the campus of Pike School for the last five years.
When Baron started Kaleidoscope, her children were 2 and 3 years old. This year, her 3-year-old grandson was enrolled in one of the sessions.
Before Thanksgiving, the 2014 course schedule will be announced and registration will begin. Some courses fill up quickly. Keep an eye on www.kaleidoscopekids.com for next year’s offerings.