In the summertime, a lot of students look forward to taking a break from the school classroom. But some are stretching their imaginations, challenging themselves, and exploring new ways of learning.
Explo is a three-week summer program that helps students from dozens of countries explore their interests outside a traditional classroom.
"It is not about, to us, grades or credit or testing or GPAs or college matriculation lists. It's, I just want to go and learn," said Moira Kelly, Executive Director and President of Explo.
The program offers courses ranging from forensic science and fashion design to workshops in pasta making and improv comedy on three New England college campuses: Wellesley College, Yale University, and Wheaton College.
At Wellesley, 8th and 9th graders are finding their passions in an environment that lets them use their minds and creativity.
"We're here to explore different ideas, we're here to get to know each other, we're here to interact, we're here to problem solve," said Barbara Trainor, Director of Curriculum Instruction. "And it becomes this place where it's ok to be smart, it's ok to ask questions, and it's something that you don't see in other places."
"When you're in middle school, it's a lot of peer pressure. It's a lot of what are the other kids doing, what's cool right now, what should i be doing according to other students," said Emily Naito, an Explo instructor. "Explo really tries to break that mold and encourage you to be different."
In aerial robotics, Naito, a Tufts University student, is guiding kids as they go through the process of building, testing, and re-designing flying ninja robots.
"Some students have literally never worked with robotics before, some have used these exact kits in their classrooms at school," said Naito.
"It's nice because everybody has their thing that they enjoy doing and are good at doing. So we try to build on those strengths but also challenge each other and get out of our comfort zones," Stav Zeliger, a 9th grader from Westboro, MA, told NECN.
"I came in here thinking like oh, I have no idea what I want to do. And I come here and I'm like, there's so many things that you can do when you grow up," said Alaina Tibbs, a 9th grader from Houston, TX.
The program tries to push eager learners to try something out of the box and challenge themselves.
"They're finding out what they're good at and what they love. And when you can find those two things together when you're a kid? Wow. You know, it's great. Because it means that’s what you can follow when you become an adult," said Kelly.
Students also learn to live on their own. Stav had one piece of advice for other students who may be interested in doing the Explo program next summer: Learn how to do laundry.