Fun where you may not expect

[attach]6345[/attach]The summer is a wonderful time for kids to enjoy a break from routine and try something new. As the back-to-school advertising ramps up and families set their sights on September, it is also time to sign up for extra-curricular activities.

Though sports and arts tend to dominate the list of choices, they don’t have the monopoly. Toronto is home to so many unique programs for kids, we couldn’t possibly list them all here but here are some to get you inspired.

University of Toronto — Saturday Science Engineering Academy

Your kids don’t have to wait until graduation to go to university.

U of T’s St. George Campus offers an engineering academy for kids in grades 5–12 who are interested in science, math and technology. Classes run on Saturday mornings and afternoons in a variety of disciplines including robotics, biomedical and mechanical. There is even a girls-only program that will introduce students to a variety of disciplines, touching on a different topic each week.

Course instructors are upper-year undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate science and engineering students specializing in the subject area they teach. Groups are divided by grade level to ensure activities are age appropriate and students are always encouraged to find out how they can learn more outside of class.

Examples of classes from the 2011 winter session include: “To Infinity and Beyond: A Closer Look at Aerospace Engineering”, “Ingenious Engineering: The Chemistry of Engineering” and “Robotics 101: The Basics of Circuits and Electronics”.
Courses are $275 per student per course and include all materials. Bursaries are available through special application.

Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto, 35 St. George St., Room 173. Visit [url=][/url] and look under the Saturday Science Engineering section.

Centre of Gravity Vaudeville Theatre and Circus Training School

Before your child decides to run away to the circus, send him or her to one just for fun.

Centre of Gravity offers after school classes that will introduce kids to all the most popular tricks like juggling, stilt walking, tumbling, clowning and aerial acrobatics. The studio director is a professional circus artist and gymnast with over 20 years experience with children’s camps.

Even preschoolers can get in on the act with Circus Tots, Kinder Cirque, Kids Dance and Creative Movement and Music for Babies and Toddlers. (Psst, they offer adult classes too.)

Studio East: 1300 Gerrard St. E., Studio West: 213 Sterling Rd and a Central location opening in September 2012. Visit [url=][/url]

Joyride 150 Indoor Bike Park

Don’t put that bike away for the winter because Markham is home to Canada’s first indoor all-season, multi-discipline bike park.
Joyride 150 has tracks for beginners through experts, an XC loop, jumps lines, foam pit and much more to challenge riders of every skill. They offer eight week after school sessions under the supervision of trained staff that will accommodate rides regardless of their skill or inner dare-devil.

Lessons include basic bike maintenance, park-riding etiquette, riding skills and tricks tailored to the skill level of each rider. Basic tricks like a fly out, jumping bunny hop or tail tap will lead into advanced skills like spines, tailwhips and no footed can-cans.

And just think how cool you will look when you know what those things actually are.

Sessions are $179 for eight weeks of 2-hour classes and include a Joyride t-shirt and access to stay and ride after class. Bike rentals are available subject to availability. 150 Bullock Dr., Markham. Visit [url=][/url]

Pawsitively Pets Kids Camps

Ever had your child beg for a pet for which you just don’t think they are ready? Or perhaps you are considering a pet and want your child to learn about how to care and take responsibility for another living creature?

Pawsitively Pets provides a place for them to explore their passion for animals without your family having to commit to a pet at home. Their after school program allows children to interact with bunnies, cats, dogs, frogs and more in a very hands-on manner that is tailored to their comfort level.

Children will have the opportunity to actively care for different animals and learn first-hand about the responsibility of owning a pet and what makes a good fit for a family. Participants finish the session with a deeper care, respect and sense of responsibility for all living creatures.

Programming is available for children age 5–16 and some under 5 preschool. Locations in High Park, Leaside, York and Oakville/Missisauga. Visit [url=][/url]