Registration open for 2017 Sitka Sound Science Center summer camps


100_0532Summer camps are an important part of the Sitka Sound Science Center’s mission for increasing understanding and awareness of Sitka’s ecosystems. Throughout the year, its educational programs offer many opportunities for emerging scientists of all ages to join the scientific community. During the summer, the camps promise to be some of the most fun and adventurous experiences for being involved in science.

The Sitka Sound Science Center partners with organizations across the community — including Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka Fine Arts Camp, National Park Service (Sitka National Historical Park), U.S. Coast Guard (Air Station Sitka), U.S. Forest Service (Tongass National ForestSitka Ranger District), and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska — to take advantage of professional expertise in natural sciences, technology, engineering and culture.

13479396_1024381470991904_2139465712_nThe Sitka Sound Science Center offers week long camps during eight weeks of the summer months. While topics and ages range vary from week to week, all camps are age appropriate, richly experiential, outdoor and community exploratory, and project-based. Each camp session includes 3-5 scientists and educators with 10-20 campers. Community partners ensure engaging field trips and activities. Camps end with a culminating presentation or activity open to the community.


Registration Fees:  

  • SSSC Members and Coast Guard Family = $100/camper and $120/family camp
  • Non SSSC Members = $125/camper and $150/family camp

For more information, please contact Janet Clarke, SSSC Education Manager at 747-8878, ext. 3 or


asa-and-jesseThis year, our summer camps share a common theme of “MOTION”. Whether it is a first grader exploring biomimicry or an eighth grader looking at the engineering behind electric cars, all of the summer camps emphasize building strong science foundations in an engaging, active manner that celebrates exploration and tinkering.

There is one Family Camp this year designed for campers to share a scientific learning experience with their significant adults. The Sitka Sound Science Center knows that a common summer outing like this is part of what makes the summer break so special.

Camp descriptions are outlined below:

  • ANIMAL LOCOMOTION (June 5-9 from 9 am to noon) — What are strategies that animals on land and in the marine environment use to move? How can humans use these observations to engineer solutions to motion challenges. Campers will explore biomimicry in this high energy, motion emphasized camp. Grade: Campers entering first through third grade in Fall 2017
  • OCEAN IN MOTION (July 17-21 from 9 am to noon) — Plankton and plastics have one thing in common – they travel on ocean currents. Campers will look at all kinds of currents in the natural world and develop understandings about causes and characteristics of currents through observations, experimentation, and modeling. Grade: Campers entering first through third grade in Fall 2017
  • MAGNIFIED ART (June 12-16 from 1-2:30 pm) — Students in the elementary camp at Alaska Fine Arts Camp have the option for participating in a workshop that is a partnership between SSSC and SFAC. Campers will enjoy artistic expression of the worlds revealed under magnification. Sign up for Magnified Art at Sitka Fine Arts Camp or on the SFAC websiteGrade: Campers entering fourth through sixth grade in Fall 2017
  • SPORTS MOTION (July 10-14 from 9 am to noon) — What factors affect the path of a projectile?  How do pitchers change the drop on a ball? Can we use scientific understandings of motion to be better ball players? Campers will exercise both their minds and their muscles in the sports motion camp. Grade: Campers entering fourth through sixth grade in Fall 2017
  • BLADES IN MOTION (July 24-28 from 1-4 pm) — “There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter.” The design challenges of helicopters, windmills, propellers, and other blades will keep these campers busy. Field trips, observations of insects, plants, birds, and marine life as well as sessions with experts will create new ways of thinking for our young engineers. Grade: Campers entering fourth through sixth grade in Fall 2017
  • REVOLUTION (June 12-16 from 9 am to noon) — “We all want to change the world.” How do engineers become innovative designers? In this camp, we will use a design process to generate ideas, solve problems, and test prototypes related to contemporary industry products and processes.  Expect some very unique challenges and thought-provoking experimentation. “Revolution” will be facilitated by visiting engineers. Grade: Campers entering seventh through 12th grade in Fall 2017
  • OCEAN ADVENTURE (June 20-28 from 4-7 pm) — Campers will explore different ways to explore the coastline of Baranof Island by participating in kayaking, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, and hiking. Grade: Invitation-Only Camp for those students who participated in “BLAST” at Blatchley Middle School during the 2016-17 school year.
  • FAMILY CAMP: EARTH ON THE MOVE (July 5-7 from 10 am to 2 pm) — Learning about our island is fun for all ages — especially when the topic is dirt. In this camp, scientists from the US Forest Service will lead explorations of geologic landforms. Each day will feature a new field trip to learn about faulting, uplift, and erosion. Field trips, experiments, and modeling activities will mean active families. Family camps are perfect for everyone – parent(s) and children, of course, but also visiting favorite aunt/uncle and their nephews/nieces, grandparents looking for quality time opportunities with grandchildren, and so on. Note: Each family registration includes up to three individuals; there will be a $10 fee for an additional family member.

100_0484Postscript for Parents:  Trying to decide what age group is the best fit for your camper?  Please read the descriptions below to select the grade level that best suits your child this year.

What happens at camp?  Each camp follows a similar daily schedule: opening activity, content rich exploration, physically active game or walk, a snack, project time, closing activity.  However, content complexity, group skills, and time spent on each task differ with age groups.

What are the skills expected at the camps?

  • Grades 1-3 camps — Campers should be easily able to walk to the Sitka National Historic Park, around the loop trail, and back again. They should have group skills such as listening, waiting for their turn, and kindness toward others. Content is integrated into stories, explorations, games, and projects. Activities work time is restricted to about 30-45 minute blocks.
  • Grades 4-6 camps — Campers should be able to sustain 30 or 45 minutes of a game or walk. They are expected to be able to listen to other’s ideas, plan together, and play cooperative and competitive games. Campers in Grades 4-6 learn content from direct instruction, experimentation, and discovery activities. These campers can plan to work on challenges or projects in 45-60 minute blocks.
  • Grades 7-9 camps — Campers in Grades 7-9 should be able to sustain focus for an hour long field trip, be able to swim, and be capable of rigorous activity for an hour or more.  They must exhibit a more mature level of cooperative planning, division of jobs, affirmative relationships, and self-discipline. These campers will experience content from direct instruction, individual research, group share, scientific method, and Q & A with experts. Work blocks will be 60-90 minutes, and in some cases may extend for several hours.

To register for the camps, click this link and fill out the online form.

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Sitka Youth Sleuths needed Jan. 28 for Eco-Discovery Day at Sitka Sound Science Center


Attention, calling all Sitka Youth Sleuths! Bella the Baby Sea Urchin has been swept away by a strong ocean current and she can’t be found. We need your help.

Come to the Sitka Sound Science Center between 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Come solve the mystery and reunite Bella with her family. Those who crack the case earn their very own Eco-Discovery button upon completion of the investigation.

There will be multiple stations with hands-on activities appropriate for children between kindergarten and sixth grade. The expected time it takes to solve the mystery is 30-45 minutes. Kids should be accompanied by an adult.

Eco-Discovery is coordinated by a partnership between the Sitka Sound Science Center, Sitka National Historical Park and Sitka Conservation Society. For more information about the event, contact Kristina at

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Fundraising dinner and dessert auction for Sitka Community Playground is Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Elks Lodge


Help raise funds for Sitka’s first American Disabilities Act-compliant playground by attending the Sitka Community Playground dinner from 5-7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Sitka Elks Lodge #1662.

The event features a dessert auction after a meal of lasagna and salad coordinated by Beth Short-Rhoads. Sitka Community Playground sweatshirts also will be available, and meals can be delivered. There also will be disco dancing for the kids. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids.

Meals can be delivered, for those who can’t make it to the Elks Lodge, by calling or texting 738-5515 during the dinner. Sitka Community Playground t-shirts also will be for sale at the event. For more information about the potluck dinner and dessert auction, contact Bridget Hitchcock at 747-1771.

This is one of a series of FUNdraisers being held for the Sitka Community Playground. There also is a raffle organized by the Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge, which will take place on at noon on Saturday, Feb. 4, at Sea Mart. Tickets are $10 per ticket, with the winner taking home a $1,000 gift card from Sea Mart, second place winning a $500 gift card from Petro Marine, and third place winning $250 in yelloweye rockfish from Sitka Sound Seafoods. Tickets will be available from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, at Sea Mart, , or you can contact Ken Creamer of the Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge (747-8903 or to buy tickets.

For more information about the playground and other FUNdraising efforts, click this link. You can donate online by clicking this link.


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Tickets go on sale Jan. 19 for Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival showing in Sitka


The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival will make a stop in Sitka as part of its annual world tour, and tickets go on sale Thursday, Jan. 19, at Old Harbor Books and the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center.

The Sitka screening takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at the Sitka Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. There will be a variety of door prizes given away after the screening. Money raised benefits the Hames Wellness Fund to support partnerships with Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL), Sitka School District, Sitka Counseling and Prevention Services, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and more.

Each year, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival celebrates life in the outdoors with a nine-day festival (Oct. 28-Nov. 5, 2017) at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta, Canada, featuring a series of short films, books and other media. Films may feature kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, wingsuit flying, rock climbing, mountaineering, skiing, surfing, fishing, and a variety of other outdoor activities.

During the world tour, a selection of the films is shown in each community, with a different set of films shown in each participating community. The world tour allows local communities to use the films as fundraisers, and the tour has made several stops in Sitka in the past.

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Sitka Community Playground group to meet Jan. 15 to work on FUNdraising projects

SCP web logo

The new Sitka Community Playground project has been designed (see concept video at bottom of story), and now we need to raise funds to purchase equipment that inspires play and imagination in our children.

The next meeting to help organize the FUNdraising campaign will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, at Oceanside Physical Therapy Center (on Halibut Point Road next to True Value). This is a rescheduled meeting, since Thursday was so icy the original meeting was postponed. We will meet to work on fundraising strategies to build the first American Disabilities Act-compliant playground in Sitka.

At Sunday’s meeting, the group will help plan an upcoming fundraising dinner at the Sitka Elks Lodge, and will learn more about the raffle coordinated by the Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge.

Doors open for the fundraising dinner at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Sitka Elks Lodge, and the event features a dessert auction after a meal of lasagna and salad coordinated by Beth Short-Rhoads. Sitka Community Playground sweatshirts also will be available, and meals can be delivered. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids.

The raffle costs $10 per ticket, with first prize a $1,000 gift certificate to Sea Mart, second prize a $500 gift card from Petro Marine, and third prize is $250 in yelloweye rockfish fillets from Sitka Sound Seafood. The tickets will be drawn at noon on Saturday, Feb. 4, at Sea Mart. Tickets will be available for sale from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14; and from 2-6 p.m. on Saturdays, Jan. 21 and Jan. 28. They also can be found at various locations in town, such as the Pioneer Bar, that carry raffle tickets, or you can contact Ken Creamer of the Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge (747-8903 or to buy tickets.

turkey-trot-adIn addition to these two fundraisers, the playground project group has planned or hosted several other fundraisers, including a day when local LuLaRoe distributors donated nearly $2,000 in sales to the project. There also were two Thanksgiving fundraisers — a pie sale Nov. 22-23 at AC Lakeside and the Sitka Community Hospital’s annual Turkey Trot on Nov. 24 — that raised more than $5,000 combined. Sitka Community Playground sweatshirts are now available for $45 and t-shirts are available for $25, stop by SAIL or look for them on sale around town.

While the group has been hosting smaller fundraising events, it also has been developing its strategy for making larger requests to corporations and applications for grants. If the project is fully funded it will take about $700,000. A list of the various playground items and their costs is posted below, and people or organizations can sponsor specific pieces of playground equipment. Click this link to hear a recent KCAW-Raven Radio morning interview with committee member Bridget Hitchcock to learn more about the project.

07-15-16-Sitka Community Playground Concept PlanLocal landscape architect Monique Anderson and artists Laura Kaltenstein hosted a Design Day for kids and parents in April, and other artists have met with students at local schools. Those ideas have been refined (see the new video at the bottom of this post), and now we’re ready to take the next step — raising money to get the playground built.

The Sitka Community Playground is a community wellness project from the 2015 Sitka Health Summit, and the goal of the project is to create an accessible, attractive, low maintenance and safe community playground that will meet the needs of both children and their families.

The community playground project initially was selected as a community wellness project at the 2011 Sitka Health Summit, but stalled after some initial work was done. The project was rekindled in 2014, when the city approved a site where the current Crescent Harbor playground is located, plus one of the three neighboring tennis courts.

The renewed project for 2015 will benefit from $2,000 in project seed money from the Sitka Health Summit. The committee also has been applying for other grants to help fund construction of what hopefully will become the only Sitka playground that will be compliant with the American Disabilities Act accessibility requirements. Previously there had been some design work done for another place in Sitka, in partnership with local students, but the group hopes to revamp the design with a new group of students.

To learn more about the Sitka Community Playground project, contact Dave Nuetzel at 747-6859, Kay Turner at 623-7878 or Kealoha Harmon at 747-3500, or send an email to You also can go to the Sitka Community Playground website,, or join the Facebook group. In addition, there is a link on the Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL) website where people can make online donations. A Sitka Community Playground component list with prices is posted below, for people/companies/organizations that want to sponsor a particular component (note, the list is in two columns).

• Sitka Community Playground information sheet (updated Aug. 20, 2016)

• Sitka Community Playground component list for people/companies wanting to sponsor a particular component (note, list is two columns)

• Sitka Community Playground coloring sheet

• Sitka Community Playground note card

• Sitka Community Playground flier

• Sitka Community Playground quarter-page handouts (two-sided PDF)

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Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club to offer outdoor survival skills series for youth


Registration is open for the Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club‘s Intro to Outdoor Survival Series.

The series is for kids ages 8 and older. It features six sessions, from 3-5 p.m. on Tuesdays starting on Jan. 17 and culminating with a tent campout on Feb. 25-26 at the Starrigavan Campground.  The program costs $20 (scholarships are available), and kids must be registered in 4H in order to participate.

During the series, the 4Hers will make their own emergency kits, learn about water purification, build a fire, learn how to prevent hypothermia, learn about wild edible plants, and more.

The registration deadline is Jan. 15. For more information and to register, contact Julia Tawney of Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or

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Sitka Sprouts program at Sitka Sound Science Center on hold until January 2017


The Sitka Sound Science Center‘s weekly Sitka Sprouts program for ages 3-5 will be canceled for the next three weeks.

We will resume the Sitka Sprouts program the first second week of January 2017. (UPDATE: The first Sitka Sprouts event of 2017 will be on Tuesday, Jan. 10, not Jan. 3, as initially announced.) Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Kristina Tirman at 747-8878, Ext.11., or by email at

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