Grandview Heights science teachers might find their students are more eager than usual to start the school year.

About 60 students in grades K-5 participated in Camp COSI, a weeklong program held Aug. 6-10 at Wyman Woods Park.

Camp COSI offers daily hands-on activities giving students the chance to explore a variety of science topics, said Matt Webber, a COSI educator who helped run the camp in Grandview.

"Camp COSI is designed as a fun, really hands-on, quintessential summer-camp experience -- except that it has science as its focus," Webber said.

"The kids are learning, but they're doing it in a fun way. It's painless learning."

The camp program for younger students is called "You Become the Scientist."

"Each day, we bring materials and activities related to a different kind of scientist," Webber said. "During the week, the students get to be astronomers, inventors, medical doctors, conservationists and biologists."

On the day devoted to biology, students took a nature hike to look for various animals and plants, learned about and participated in activities related to animal camouflage, and got an up-close look at animals they don't often get to see, including a Chilean rose tarantula, a Madagascar hissing cockroach, a ball python and a bearded dragon.

"We always try to make each day fun," Webber said. "Our rule No. 6 for campers is 'have fun.' "

It's often difficult to tell who is having more fun: the campers or the camp leaders, he said.

"What's so fun for us is having the kids come up to you and tell you the things about science they already know," Webber said. "When we see kids getting excited about science, that's the reward.

"Hopefully, that excitement will translate to the classroom and bring them to visit COSI more often," he said.

The Grandview Parks and Recreation Department reached out to COSI to offer the camp program to help serve as a transition between the end of the school district's summer child-care program and the start of school Wednesday, Aug. 15, parks and recreation Director Mike Patterson said.

"We wanted to offer families a safe, welcoming place for their kids during this last full week of summer vacation," he said. "We weren't sure what kind of response we would get. It's been great seeing how many kids signed up."

Oliver Bugnitz, 7, and his sister, Sadie, 9, were among the youngsters attending Camp COSI.

"It's really fun because we get to do so many different things, like making a rocket out of an old bottle and shooting it off into the sky," Oliver said. "I already like science, so this is something I wanted to do."

"I was really surprised that some people are scientists and I didn't even realize it," Sadie said. "Like a doctor -- I never thought of them as being scientists."

Lila Peale, 8, said she couldn't believe how high the bottle rocket she made flew into the air.

"We just filled it with water to help propel it and it went way, way up over the trees," she said.

Adeline Hoepf, 8, said she likes watching the video of the bottle-rocket liftoff she shot with her cellphone.

"I've found out that there's a lot of fun things about science," she said. "I think I'm going to be more interested in science this year in school. It's pretty cool."

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