Let's Get Astrophysical

Inside the room, dozens of kids are using their summer down time taking the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics challenge: measuring the moon's distance from the Earth using a gyroscope or making sun dials.

"Chandler," six years old, said, "It is lots of fun. We made sundials. It is real colorful."

The week-long camp offers kids an alternative to sitting home during the summer break from the books. Statistics show summertime is "high time" for teens to try marijuana for the first time.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says there is a 40 percent increase in first-time youth marijuana users during June and July compared to the rest of the year.

Besides helping kids stay on the straight and narrow, it broadens their horizons educationally.

Michelle Personette of the Challenger Learning Center says, "A lot of times during the summer, for lack of a better term, kids veg out, so it is important to extend academics during the summer. Through what we call 'edutainment.' "

Student campers say spending summer studying science gives them a leg up academically.

Alexis Russell, a 12-year-old camper, says, "Next year when come back, won't know anything. This way we learn about science and get head start on making good grades and getting in college."

For now, these kids are just enjoying exploring the world around them.

The Challenger Learning Center holds a host of summer camps for kids. Most of them have spots still available. For information, call the Challenger Learning Center at 850-645-7796.