STEM is a national movement to get students involved with science, technology, engineering, and math. It’s in the best interest of NJ’s future generations to build vital skills around problem solving, creativity, critical thinking, and innovation. Thanks to iD Tech Camps, students are acquiring that competitive edge for school, their career, and beyond.
By the year 2020, there will be over one million unfilled STEM jobs. However, there will not be enough students prepared to fill these open positions. Today’s kids simply are not prepared for the future,” says Karen Thurm Safran, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, iD Tech.
We live in a world surrounded by technology where learning to code is as vital as incorporating reading, writing, and arithmetic. Coding will only become more prevalent and part of our society, so it is critical to teach students how to understand logic-based thinking. Most of iD Tech’s courses incorporate coding.”
Intro to iD Tech
iD Tech was founded in 1999 by Alexa Ingram-Cauchi and her mother Kathryn Ingram. Back then, no one used the word STEM and tech camps weren’t really a thing. Today, iD Tech is named the world’s number one summer tech camp with 150 locations in 30 states; to date, over 230,000 students have participated with iD Tech. The company started in New Jersey 12 years ago with the Rider University camp. Now, there are seven additional campuses for students to pick from. They are: Princeton University, Fairleigh Dickinson University — Florham Campus, Montclair State University, Kean University, Seton Hall University, Ramapo College, and Monmouth University.
Boys and girls ages 7-17 learn in small class sizes through iD Tech Camps, with only eight students per instructor. This allows for more personalized learning. During the week-long day or overnight camps, kids can code apps, design video games, mod with Minecraft, build websites, program robots, and much more. Students select one course from over 60 hands-on, project-based learning courses; some of the course subjects include Programming/App Development, Game Design/Game Development, Robotics Engineering, Web Design/Photography, Film/Video, and 3D Modeling/3D Printing. Each year, the curriculum is updated to reflect the latest changes in technology.
In addition to the camps, Princeton University offers the exclusive iD Programming Academy, a two-week, pre-college program for ages 13-18. “It is much more intensive,” says Safran, about the Academy. “We teach students how to build a project portfolio. They interact with professionals in the industry. Some locations may even visit a working studio. Many of our teens elect to receive Continuing Education Units issued by Villanova University.”
Success Stories 101
David Weintraub is a 17-year-old student from Robbinsville. 2016 will be his fifth year at the Princeton campus of iD Tech. This past summer, he attended for three weeks. David’s interests lie in game development, including programming, level design, and some digital art. “You develop and learn in such a creative and productive environment. There are skits, games, and fun activities that make the experience enjoyable for all age levels. I love the positive atmosphere and the close group of faculty that I have become good friends with over the years. They are mentors to me not only at the camp—they keep up with me during the rest of the year.”
Through iD Tech, David has learned about Java programming, Unreal Engine, the Unity game engine, level design for games, and 3D Maya Modeling. After high school, he would like to be a counselor at iD Tech. He plans on attending either the Rochester Institute of Technology or Northeastern University to study video game development and programming.
Learning Never Stops
Ted Selden of New Brunswick will be spending his ninth summer as an instructor of game and web design at iD Tech’s Princeton campus. “When I was 16 and into making movies, my parents found iD Tech as an option. I signed up and love it. Being a nerd and having an alternative taste in the early 2000s had not really reached the level of acceptance that it has in the last 10 years or so. It was great going there and realizing that I was not alone, and finding so many others there were like minded. I returned when I was 20 and applied for a job. It is so amazing to witness that spark of pure joy you see when a concept clicks.”
When Ted is not teaching at camp, he is a media specialist at Middlesex County College. He also writes and draws his own web comic.
In four years, PA resident Jacob Schaub went from a game design instructor at Princeton to directing the iD Programming Academy. “Our staff slogan is that it is the best job ever. You get to hang out with the kids and share things of importance. My favorite part of the day is right after lunch. We have Snuggles’ Power Half Hour. (All of the counselors have nicknames, and mine is Snuggles.) The kids are too hyper to sit in front of computers so we have a giant recess where I teach them a game to play and we have sing-a-longs. It is a great time with the preteen and younger kids.”
Jacob recently graduated from Kutztown University with a degree in art education. When camp is out, he plans on working on his master’s degree in fine arts in sculpture.
The iD Tech Difference
Speaking about the magic of iD Tech, Safran explains that “This is not your typical camp. It is amazing what our students do. They are empowered—there is a real magic that happens. We have had students write books or start clubs at school. We have students who do not do well in school articulate themselves through web design, a movie, or a video game. So many of our students are now working for us as instructors. They go on to do incredible things out in the field, working for companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Electronic Arts. One woman founded CoderDojo in New York City to teach youth how to code. All of these students got their spark at one of our programs.”
Hero (Top) Feature Image (and Additional Images): © iD Tech