Throughout August 2023, GMCC served 59 diverse youth grades K-8 with a no-cost, all day, five-week educational summer camp at GMCC’s facility. The program filled a known childcare gap before the school year starts, curbed summer learning loss, and addressed educational disparities. Our dynamic team of teachers, social workers, and youth experts developed a curriculum that included STEM activities, outdoor exploration, art, reading, field trips, and more!

Monday – Thursday Schedule:
8:45 Drop Off
9:00-10:00 Breakfast, Morning Meeting
10:00-12:00 STEM Activities
12:00-12:45 Lunch
1:00-3:00 Outdoor play or Walking Field Trips
3:00-4:00 Games and Reading
4:45 Pick Up

Friday Schedule:
Field Trip Day! Various locations
8:45 Drop Off
4:45 Pick Up


Check out the awesome yearbook we designed to give to families, partners, donors, & funders to encapsulate the fun summer we had:

Or read summaries of each week below:

Week One: Spectacular Space!


Our 2023 Genius Labs Summer Camp was off to a spectacular start! The whole group spent this week getting to know Genius Labs and each other. We all learned so much and had lots of fun with new friends!

The Middle School group focused on NASA and the technology needed to explore deep space. On Tuesday, guest instructor Steve Birth taught them about electricity and brought them different motors & gadgets to power up using wires & circuits. They also enjoyed Minute to Win it College challenges Monday and Tuesday. Ask them what college name they chose for themselves!

The Elementary group learned about the big word in our theme this week (“spectacular”). They also learned all about the different planets in our solar system, what gravity does, and even painted their own planets!

As a whole group, we loved going to the wading pool at Powderhorn Park and eating meals together (courtesy of Youthprise).

We also all enjoyed our Friday field trip to the Bell Museum, where we watched the Minnesota Night Skies show at the planetarium. We got to see the different constellations, planets, and galaxies that are visible from our own backyards. This was really cool after learning different things about space during the week!

We explored the other museum exhibits, and especially loved the Touch and See exhibit where we could touch real bones, furs, and see live animals. Those who were brave enough even got to touch a live snake! 


We just discovered a whole new world!

9-year-old Participant

These are my new best friends!

6-year-old Participant

Photos from the Bell Museum field trip; guest instructor Steve Birth’s lesson on electricity; the group eating lunch at the park

Week Two: Minnesota Wild

This week our Middle Schoolers learned all about the wildlife of Minnesota! Monday they had a visit from our staffer Len to learn about digital nature photography. Ask our students how many elements of composition they remember! Tuesday they had another visit from Steve Birth in their series on electricity and inventions. 

The Elementary group spent this week learning all about the wildlife in our home of Minnesota! Our daily choice time included lots of coloring and reading options all about loons, moose, and black bears.

We enjoyed a visit from the Ney Nature Center who taught us all about animal and insect identification and even brought real animal furs to touch! We also took walking field trips to the Midtown Global Market and Pow Wow Grounds, where we learned about Minnesota’s most famous plant–wild rice.

On Friday all of our students went canoeing, fishing, and made s’mores over a real fire at the Fort Snelling State Park with Wilderness Inquiry! 

Nature photography taken by the middle schoolers; photos from the Wilderness Inquiry field trip

Week Three: Spark! Electricity & Magnets

On Monday, the whole group got to enjoy some time outside with the Minnesota United Soccer Clinic. They got free t-shirts and sunglasses, and got to play soccer with the Minnesota United team aka the Loons. They even got to meet their mascot, PK the loon!

The Middle Schoolers had another lesson from Steve Birth about electricity and inventing. The group started building their own cardboard boomboxes, which will be manually powered by generators.

Both the Elementary group and the middle schoolers were visited by Create MPLS, who showed them how to do Lego robotics. They followed instructions to build Lego cars, and then learned how to code their movements with tablets. The students had fun playing with different speeds, lights, and sounds for their cars!

Both groups also spent some time with Creative Kuponya, who talked to them about managing stress and helped them make their own worry stones out of clay. Every person’s worry stone was unique to them, with different combinations of colors and shapes.

On Friday, we took a field trip to the Minnesota Science Museum. Before lunch, we went outside to play Night at the Museum with the museum staff. Then, the middle schoolers learned about hydroponic planting and even got to take home their own plant, while the elementary schoolers combined different crayons and melted them in molds to make their own crayons.

After lunch, we explored the museum exhibits. Students had a lot of fun in the interactive Experiment Gallery and loved looking at the Exquisite Creatures exhibit, which featured art made of different preserved animal specimens. We got to see the Stellar Tours Live Digital Telescope Show in the museum’s Omnitheater, where we got a closer look at the planets in our solar system.

It sounds like they’re learning a lot.

They’ve been teaching me so much.

Participant's parent

Minnesota United soccer clinic; Lego robotics with Create MPLS; crafting worry stones with Creative Kuponya; Minnesota Science Museum field trip

Week Four: Amazing Agriculture – Farms & Food

This week, both groups got to learn about all things bees with Erin from Pollinate MN. Erin talked to us about the biology and behaviors of bees, along with the differences between worker, drone, and queen bees.

She even brought a live bee colony and freshly hatching drone bees that we could hold since they don’t have stingers. The students grew really attached to these bees, and gave them names like Bob, Jimmy, & Henry.

We also got to sample different kinds of fresh honey, which were all really sweet and tasty! They fed their pet bees some honey as well. They also got to try on beekeeping suits! After all the buzz, we discussed the important role bees play as pollinators, and then watched The Bee Movie.

The Middle Schoolers had another Tuesday session with Steve Birth, where they continued working on their homemade boomboxes. On Thursday, The Real Minneapolis came to do some flower planting with them outside. The students each picked out plants to transplant into a “community garden” planter box.

The Elementary group spent another Thursday with Creative Kuponya, who taught them some fun songs about planting seeds of happiness until they grow into trees. Students were asked what makes them happy, and they gave a variety of answers, including family, friends, and food.

On Friday, the whole group traveled to Amery, Wisconsin to visit Whetstone Farm. Whetstone Farm is described as a dynamic collaborative farm project looking to build community and resiliency in sustainable farming. We helped shuck fresh corn and pick seeds out of fresh watermelon, which we got to eat after! Everything was so delicious and great to enjoy picnic-style on the farm land.

We also got to walk through the fields and identify different crops, such as tomatoes, radishes, carrots, and kale. They even let us pick some to take home! It was awesome seeing a real, working farm after all we learned about agriculture this week. Our parent chaperones enjoyed tagging along too!

Handling live bees with Pollinate MN; planting flowers with The Real MPLS; field trip to Whetstone Farm

Week Five: Summer Fun!

This was the last week of camp, which was bittersweet, but we made sure it was filled with tons of fun! The whole group had plenty of time in the sun with visits to their favorite local parks to swim and play.

The Middle Schoolers wrapped up their series on Electricity & Inventing with Steve Birth by finishing their homemade boomboxes. They got to take these home with them after all their hard work. Thank you to Steve for visiting every week!

The Elementary group spent some time doing yoga with instructor Axel. They tested their flexibility and balance, and learned some breathing techniques.

Both groups got to do some more robotics with STEMBuilders. They coded the cars to do cool tricks, like responding to clapping and avoiding obstacles.

On Wednesday, artist Jared Hanks (who worked on the murals for the GMCC building) took the whole group on a mural scavenger walk around Lake Street. They discussed the different kinds of murals and what they liked about them. Then, they got to make their own “murals” with collage materials. This was a great activity to highlight the importance of creativity and local art.

The whole group also spent time with visitor Tony Paul, who taught them African drumming styles and let them practice on real drums.

Camp staffer Juan’s mom, who is an educator, talked to the students about anti-bullying and making new friends this school year.

For our final field trip, we went to Maple Grove Rec Center! We had fun in the indoor playground called the “Maple Maze” and splashed around in their pool which has a climbing wall, rope swing, and water slide.

And finally, to celebrate our time together these past five weeks, we had a big party on the last day and invited parents! One parent brought us free catering from Raising Cane’s, which we had with ice cream and cupcakes.

We displayed some photos taken during camp and artwork by the students for parents to view. There was also a free book giveaway and exit surveys for the students and parents to fill out.

Although we were sad to say goodbye to all these wonderful students, we are so happy they got to participate in our summer camp and find their genius. We hope to see them again in the future!

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook, to see more photos from Genius Labs and learn about other work GMCC is doing for the community. 

I wish I could stay here forever!

9-year-old Participant

A student with his completed boombox; yoga with instructor Axel; a parent and her child at the end-of-camp party

Stay tuned for content about future youth programming!