Getting our kids on board with STEM early in the game seems like a great way to go. And just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that gentle parent-ly nudge in the right direction has to take a break. An easy way to get kids hyped about things like computer programming and coding is signing them up for one of these three (edited to add: no wait, four!) rad, tech summer camps going on right now, some of which are like full-on day camps; some of which kids can do right from home in those quiet hours after playing outside all day.
Oh, and if you need a few more encouraging words that may help stoke the tech summer camp fires for your kids, here’s one to start with: Minecraft.
Although it’s only offered in Brooklyn right now, this 10-week summer camp (also at very top) is the definition of A Total Blast. The BK Bots helps kids learn how to build and program their own LEGO Mindstorm robots, and then how to battle them. Of course! Let’s call it a 21st century camp color war?
The camp kicks off this week and goes through September 4, with workshop classes running 5 days a week from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (BK Bots, $400 per week)
Not specifically reserved for summer, this interactive, online course from Youth Digital — a leader in tech education for youngsters ages 8 to 14 — promises to teach the children well in how to program and customize their own Minecraft server. And, you know, kids and Minecraft go together like mac and cheese.
The Server Design 1 course is serious business, with more than 30 hours of activities, video instruction, plus tech support. It helps kids learn to code in Java from scratch and gives them the tools to design their own play. One more cool thing: The server is completely safe and secure, so folks who are not invited friends or family won’t be able to join in. (12-month subscription, $249.99)
We’ve already raved about this fun, free, four-day camp session for kids ages 8 to 16 that’s being offered at Microsoft retail stores (check to if your local spot is in on this deal). The two-hour session gives kids hands-on experience in coding, app creation and video game design using the latest technologies. Head over to the YouthSpark page to see if your local store offers the camps and sign up ASAP, because classes fill up super fast.
Related: Going to camp with Apple
Here’s a late entry: We just got word that this Monday, July 13, Google is kicking off their own online camp called…well, Camp Google. Perfect name, right? It’s all about search but not the way you might think. More like getting kids to ask questions about science topics that excite them, and and search for answers. Kids ages 7-10 — though everyone is welcome, including families — will get tons of science activities to do on their own time, around four themes: the ocean, the outdoors, space and music, in which kids get to jam out with an artist. We wonder if it’s Icona Pop again?
In other words it’s not exactly a tech camp in the same way the others are, but it is using technology to bring you a very cool science learning experience.
What we think is really cool though are the partnerships with the likes of NASA, The National Park Service, and National Geographic, that will include one “live adventure” each week. Basically, if you can’t go on a field trip to Hawaii to climb a volcano, Camp Google will bring it to you, live. Cool, right? The website isn’t particularly in-depth, but check out the Camp Google video for a pretty good explanation. We’re thinking a little like Mythbusters for kids. (Camp Google, free for all kids)