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Summer Chemistry Camps

Scenes from Chem Camps.

Fun with Chemistry camps have been a Madison tradition since their inception in 1984. These 5-day afternoon summer programs offer an excellenet combination of innovative hands-on science curriculum and fun!

An ICE Fun with Chemistry Camp is really special because campers actually get to do science, they don't just watch it happen! Through experiments, projects, and discussions campers entering grades 5 to 8 explore chemistry and science in laboratories in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Experienced staff supervise students in small groups, emphasizing lab safety while communicating fundamental science concepts and developing reasoning skills. Depending on which camp they enroll in, campers will carry out a variety of laboratory experiments such as these:

  • Flame tests (Chemistry; Forensic)
  • Plating pennies (Chemistry)
  • Silvering ornaments (Inventions)
  • Annealing, hardening, and tempering iron (Chemistry)
  • Chromatography (Chemistry; Forensic)
  • Monomers and polymers (Chemistry; Inventions)
  • DNA isolation (Forensic)
  • Substance analysis (Chemistry; Forensic)
  • Pneumatic systems design (Engineering)
  • Gold and silver nanoparticles (Inventions)
  • Flocculation, water treatment (Engineering)
  • Crystals and liquid crystals (Inventions)
  • Tin dendrites (Inventions)
  • Circuits and communication systems (Engineering)
  • Programming a game (Engineering)

Learn more about ICE Fun with Chemistry Camps:

Comments from parents

Hands-on at Chem Camp.

  • The program was wonderful. My daughter learned so much and can't wait to attend [another camp].
  • Great experience for a boy who loves science!
  • Can't wait to go again. [My child] told [their] 6th grade science teacher about it...and showed [their] class the things they brought home!
  • They absolutely loved it. [My kids] came home every night excited. Loved the labs and pretty much everything!

How to enroll your child(ren)

  • First, read all information in this section about required forms, program expectations, charges, payment, and cancellation/ refund policies. Make certain you agree to all items in each required form. Once you register a child the registration cannot be cancelled with a full refund.
  • Second, go to the camp schedule to register your child for each camp session that your child will attend.

Required Forms:

Before your child can attend Chemistry Camp, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Institute for Chemical Education (ICE) require that the forms listed below be completed, signed, and received for each registered camper for each camp session your child will attend. All items must be signed and no items can be changed or deleted. If you have a question about any form contact ICE at (Links to forms will be available when registration opens.)

  • Health Information Form (mandatory), Asthma Action Plan (if needed), and Diabetes Management Form (if needed)
  • Waiver Form (mandatory)
  • Pick Up Form (mandatory)

Send scanned forms by email to:

Send printed copies by U.S. Mail to: ICE, Institute for Chemical Education, Department of Chemistry, 1101 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706.

What to Expect in Camp

Please discuss our program expectations and policies with your child. We strive for a camp experience in which children are safe, included, respected, and challenged as individuals. To maintain a safe, hands-on, laboratory environment students are supervised at all times. Campers should dress appropriately to work in a lab: covered shoulders (no tank tops), long trousers, shoes that cover the feet (no sandals or open-toed shoes), and old clothes. Some experiments involve matches, flames, simulated blood, and latex. Chem Camp will supply safety goggles and gloves. Campers may not carry out any unauthorized experiments, must follow all instructions of their group leaders, and are not permitted to leave the chemistry building unsupervised. Any misconduct by a camper is grounds for immediate dismissal from the camp with no refund of camp fee.

Charges and Payment:

The registration fee for each one-week half-day camp session is $230. Campers may register for multiple sessions. Payments can be made by credit card during the online registration. (Those who choose to pay with a check will find complete instructions with the email that confirms your registration.)

Note: Payment must be received within two weeks of submitting the registration or your child’s spot in the camp session will be automatically cancelled.

Camp Scholarships are available for those who can demonstrate need. If you are applying for a camp scholarship, do NOT register online. Contact ICE at or by phone at 608/262-3033 before registering.

Cancellation/Refund Policies:

If your plans change and your child can no longer attend a camp session you have registered them for, please contact the Cashier’s Office, University of Wisconsin-Extension, 432 North Lake Street, Madison, WI 53706; 608/262-2451.

  • Cancellations received by or before May 15, 2020 will receive a 75% refund.
  • Cancellations received after May 15, 2020 and up to 14 days before the beginning of your child’s session will receive a 40% refund.
  • No refunds will be issued for cancellations that are received within 14 days of the beginning of the session for which your child is registered.
  • Refunds may take up to 6 weeks for UW-Madison to process.

Note: your child is not confirmed for Chem Camp until payment is received and all forms listed above have been completed and received by ICE. The deadline for receipt of forms and payment is by or before May 15, 2020. Once your registration is complete you will not receive further communication from ICE until about a week before the start of the camp.

2020 Summer Chem Camp Schedule and Online Registration

Session 1: Fun with Chemistry Camp

June 15–19, 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m

Session 1: Register online (coming soon)

At the Fun with Chemistry camp, your camper will have a combination of laboratory work and an engineering challenge that culminates in an engineering competition at the end of the week. Experiments students can run include flame tests of common metals, making acid-base test papers, reaction of an acid and a new penny, chromatography (several), plating copper, and polymer (several).

Session 2: Fun with Inventions Camp

June 22–26, 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m

Session 2: Register online (coming soon)

In this hands-on Chemistry Inventions camp, students will learn and practice concepts from chemistry, engineering, and materials science. Campers will learn how to use an optical microscope; how to make and use gold and silver nanoparticles, liquid crystals, mirrors, and more.

Session 3: Fun with Forensics Chemistry Camp

July 6–10, 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m

Session 3: Register online (coming soon)

During each session of the Fun with Forensic Chemistry camp, participants will gather evidence from different simulated crime scenes: collect DNA information, gather and interpret fingerprints, conduct simulated drug analysis and classification, and employ the scientific method to solve mysteries and crimes. Guest speakers from forensic-science careers enhance the program's connection to real-life science.

Session 4: Fun with Engineering Camp

July 13–17, 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Session 4: Register online (coming soon)

This Fun with Engineering camp provides students with hands-on activities that introduce them to different engineering disciplines and some basic engineering principles. In this camp students use the engineering design process to develop a Morse telegraph, build a water recycling system, learn to program using Scratch, build hydraulic systems, design pneumatic systems, and more.