Kids who spend their summers playing video games are a parent’s worst nightmare, but teaching them to create the games can pave a path to success.
Now more than ever, educators believe that the STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — are important to include in children’s education. In 2009, President Obama created the decade-long Educate to Innovateinitiative in an effort to provide the tools for kids to become the future of innovation in the US. Coalitions led by top CEOs are currently working towards providing those tools, like the 100Kin10 coalition aiming to train 100,000 STEM teachers by 2019.
From building robots to coding video games, these week-long summer camps in NYC are designed to show students that the STEM subjects can be exciting and fun. Here are some stand-out options for young inventors, builders and tinkerers.
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We love littleBits more than just a little bit. The New York-based company sells electronic building blocks for kids around the world, allowing them to invent and create.
This summer, they decided to give kids a chance to try out their product. Teaming up with YouthSpark by Microsoft, they now offer “Be an Inventor with littleBits”, a free, week-long camp for kids ages 8-11 held at the Microsoft Flagship store in NYC.
The main goal of this collab is to get the kids playing with littleBits, and learn the “create, play, remix, share” process. Kristen Smith, a retail account manager at littleBits, said the campers create their inventions and share them with family and friends in a gallery showcase.
“We want the students to be able to create inventions, and really use the invention process to take an idea and bring it to life,” she said.
The Brooklyn Robot Foundry boasts many programs throughout the year for kids in Brooklyn and Manhattan looking to build some cool robots. In their two main summer 2016 programs, Robot Adventure and Robot World, attendees produce nine robot creations over the course of the week-long camp. They also offer Girls Week at all locations, in which the projects are the same but the campers are all girls. For older brainiacs, there are robot inventing and programming weeks as well.
This program takes STEM summer learning new heights, offering all STEM subjects to kids in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade at their location on the Upper West side.
All subjects are offered to all ages, but activities and projects are tailored to each age group. For example, the camps for pre-K and K students are centered on what the kids want to be when they grow up, such as “I Wanna Be a Coder”, and “I Wanna Be an Astronaut”.
Director Scott Heifetz is determined to get kids interested in science and mathematics with his week-long programs.
“They’re not going to walk away from a one-week camp knowing everything, but we can have them walking away with a newfound inspiration,” he said.
On the Upper East side, rising fifth through eighth graders can choose from a large variety of different topics at the i2 STEM-based summer camps. In the Jr. program, fifth and sixth graders learn how to engineer ice cream, or 3D print. For the senior program (seventh and eighth graders), options include crime scene investigating and building lunar colonies. The possibilities are endless!
All of the camps are developed by outside professionals and organizations, including MIT, the United States Naval Academy, and the New York hall of science. These programs are definitely cool and creative.