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Popular science camp reimagines itself to serve Northern California students during pandemic

Sly Park Science Camp has adopted a virtual model that serves the students it normally hosts and expanding to more

POLLOCK PINES, Calif. — The Sly Park Science Camp in El Dorado County has been a long rite of passage for fifth and sixth graders in the Sacramento region.

“Last year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Sly Park Program, hundreds of thousands of young people went through it,” Dave Gordon, the Sacramento County Office of Education superintendent, said. “Generations now have gone through it.”

This generation of students who had to endure learning during a pandemic don’t get to go to the camp physically, but thanks to some creative thinking, get to participate virtually.

Sixth graders at Breen Elementary School in the Rocklin Unified School District have been taught virtually by science teachers how to tap into their natural scientist skill. Through the interactive lessons, the students get the chance to fully understand and care for their local environment.

“I actually didn’t even think we’re going to do Sly Park, I think it’s amazing because of all these activities” sixth grade student Tarek Allen Maleh said. “I’ve been waiting all last year, even though we can’t really go to Sly Park, and learning about science is awesome.”

“I think my favorite thing is learning about all the animals and the nature and engineering that goes into Sly Park,” Rahini Gounder, another sixth grade student, said.

This virtual version of Sly Park comes only the second week students in the Rocklin Unified School District have all been together in the classroom at one time.

To their teachers at Breen Elementary and Sly Park, the students feel nothing but gratitude.

“Honestly, I’m so grateful for them setting up all of this,” Maleh said.

“I want to say thank you so much, it was an incredible experience so far,” Gounder said.

The Sacramento County Office of Education oversees the camp. They say they are still working to determine when students can come back to the camp in person. They say thanks to the virtual model that has been developed, they are now serving younger grades and hope to expand the program throughout the state.


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