It’s snowing in many parts of the country today, so the fact that we’re writing about summer might surprise you. But, it’s summer camp registration season!
Parents are already looking into the programs that will keep their kiddos occupied while they’re out of school for the months of June, July, and August. From art camp, to music camp, to robotics camp, it’s also the season for schools, museums, libraries, and other organizations to find fun new curriculum that will surprise, delight, and educate this summer’s incoming campers.
littleBits will be sharing some new curriculum for summer camps later this month; but in the meantime, we wanted to share some of the coolest summer camp experiences we’ve participated in to date — to give us all some summer inspiration.
STEM Summer in the City with NYC Department of Education
Since 2016, littleBits has been a big part of the New York City Department of Education’s STEM Summer in the City, a free learning program for 2nd-10th graders. The camp allows kids to invent, innovate, create, design, and engage with STEM topics through littleBits. The entire curriculum is designed around key elements of robotics, game design, coding, engineering, and inventing.
Here are the stats on the littleBits program for grades 2 – 5:
- 5-week program
- 105 teachers facilitating
- 2,100 students participating
According to one of the camp facilitators, the camps are “so easy to use for so many different learners.” And another said, “The students learned to be creative and independent.”
iD Tech Summer Camps
iD Tech, a leader in summer technology camps for kids and teens, has also used littleBits in its Mini Summer Camps. Campers use littleBits to discover a passion for technology.
They typically have 5-6 hours a day of instruction — balanced, of course, with social time, outdoor games, and epic gaming tournaments. iD Tech’s 8:1 student to instructor ratio ensures small class size so students really bond with each other and their instructor.
iD Tech has theme days every week where students can dress up as their favorite super hero or wear their craziest hat. According to iD Tech curriculum developer Genevieve Johnson, “We live by our slogan, ‘this is camp, not school.’”
At iD Tech Mini, all students participate in a Maker Station, which features fun STEAM activities like building with littleBits. The organization includes a variety of arts and crafts materials along with basic kits, and it’s always a crowd favorite. Campers have built tickle machines, night lights, and even made paper robots light up!
Here are some examples of fun camp projects:
- A 7-year-old girl put a feather on the end of a DC motor and chased her mother with it!
Another camper made a buzzer megaphone for her 4-year-old brother. Every time he pressed the button, he would squeal in excitement and jump up and down!
- There’s an increasing demand for electrical engineering and coding for young children. littleBits is versatile enough to teach basic engineering and design to young children while still “aging-up” to allow children and teens to program with the Arduino programming language.
As summer approaches, now is the time to get inspired by the creative ways that schools, museums, libraries, and other organizations are thinking about tackling STEAM instruction this summer.
Everybody learns differently. The more instructors are able to use a variety of teaching methods — a mix of visual aids, activities, guided practice, and direct instruction — the better they will be able to accomodate different learning styles and combat summer brain drain.