By Amanda Hughens

As the days get longer and the weather heats up, students across the Valley can be heard counting down the final days of the school year.

Numerous studies have revealed that students experience learning loss when they don’t have the opportunity to engage in educational activities over extended periods. And although summer break may not seem very long, studies have shown that students will lose approximately two months of math or computation skills over the summer months. In fact, research has shown that students often score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they did on the same test before school let out for the break.

While few students will jump at the idea of summer school to keep their skills sharp over the holiday, there are fun ways to keep the brain active in reading, writing and arithmetic.

Head to camp: While school is out, many local colleges and universities host summer programs for middle and high school students looking for fun educational opportunities. Grand Canyon University hosts a STEM Summer Camp series where students have the chance to participate in project-based learning experiences grounded in engineering design principles. The camps run from June 8 to July 16 and more information can be found at

Immerse in edutainment: Arizona Science Center, Musical Instrument Museum and other community enrichment resources are known for blending education with entertainment in unique classes and programs. These workshops allow students to combine their interests in science, music or art with tactile learning.

Leverage everyday activities: For younger students, everyday experiences at home can provide a wealth of learning experiences. A trip to the garden provides a great opportunity to discuss why tomatoes turn red as they grow or how bees help a flower bloom. Spending the afternoon in the kitchen can be a gateway to learning about different weights and measures.

Opportunities to beat summer learning losses are everywhere. Whatever the activity or project, the key is to keep it fun and engaging.

Amanda Hughens is the K-12 STEM Outreach Manager at Grand Canyon University.