For many parents, trying to navigate the ever-changing tech world is a struggle to say the least. Even more challenging, is finding ways to build on your child’s interest in technology. One idea is to send them to a summer camp dedicated to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
iD Tech, a high-energy, hands-on technology program, offers an incredible selection of tech courses across the country. “We are, by far, the largest summer STEM program out there,” says Karen Thurm Safran, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at iD Tech. “Last year, we had over 40,000 students attend our program and this year we are expecting over 57,000. We have eight locations in New Jersey and the program at Princeton University is probably the largest.”
Safran explains that the courses not only equip students with invaluable technical skills, they also provide a foundation for the future. “I don’t see us as just a tech camp, but rather a place to articulate a child’s creativity through a medium that is also their hobby,” she says.
You might think tech camps are a boys’ club, but the enrollment statistics prove otherwise. “What’s exciting is now 21% of our enrolled students are girls. This year we will have 12,000 girls participating in the program,” Safran mentioned.
If your child has an interest in STEM-related topics, here are a few tips to consider when selecting a summer tech camp program:
1. Find a program that supports your child’s interest
My experience with parents researching tech programs is they are looking for a way to transform their child’s hobby into something productive. Kids who like to play video games and spend a lot of time online usually have an interest in doing electronic things in STEM-focused fields,” says Jacob Schaub, Director of the iD Programming Academy at Princeton. “If your kid loves Minecraft you can explain that Java is the language used to create the game. Every kid wants to make a video game, so if you say let’s make one, they typically have a billion ideas for the game experience that they want to give someone else.” Adds iD Tech Lead Instructor Theodore Seldon, “teens who love Snapchat can learn how the App is programmed. They can learn how to create a program that would mimic what Snapchat does, and boom all of a sudden they know the fundamentals of how the application works.”
2. Explore the benefits of sending your child to a summer tech program
It’s important to expose your child to coding and programs with coding principles whether it’s creating a video game, making movies or creating an App because we live in a technical world. Even if you’re child is not going into science, technology, engineering, or math, there are certain skills like reading, writing and arithmetic that they must know,” adds Safran. “Learning basic coding and the principles behind these STEM courses are imperative for getting ahead in the workforce. To compete, kids need to have key 21st-century skills that reinforce problem-solving, innovation, collaboration, and critical thinking to give them an advantage for school, for college, for life.”
3. Find a camp that offers small classes
An ideal classroom scenario would allow for personalized learning,” says Safran. “Our classes have only eight kids per instructor, and the magic is unreal because kids are learning in an environment of creativity and innovation with a highly-skilled staff. It’s just synergistic.” Adds Schaub, “it provides a close mentoring relationship.”
4. Look for success stories
I think every child that walks through the door of our camp is a success story. We’ve had kids who have released Apps on the App store that have gotten a few thousand downloads, but the best part is the bonding experience,” says Schaub. “Some kids have a hard time finding a community in their mainstream school, and they come to camp and walk out with phone numbers for their new best friends. I know parents like to send their kids to tech camp for the education, but for me, I think camp makes them better people.”
Hero (Top) Feature Image (and Additional Images): © iD Tech