This article was written for the Media and Learning Newsletter- July 2017
Minecraft, Robotics, Digital Fabrication, Videogames, Scratch, Digital Storytelling, Graphic and Web Design: summer camps provide an opportunity to express creativity, acquire skills and develop new digital awareness.
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics as well as Art and Reading: STEM or STEAM or STREAM are synonymous with technological innovation.
Parents want for their children an education that guarantees them the best future, and given the fact that not all schools are well equipped for STEM, summer camps provide a great opportunity to combine fun and learning.
All around the world, there are plenty of different types of solutions with
mother tongue and English courses, with meals and overnight stays
included, near the sea or in the mountains.
Costs vary a lot, but for parents who have planned ahead, there are lots of different choices. After the holidays, many of these schools will continue to offer courses all year round both during school hours or in an after-school setting.
In Italy, the most successful experience is H-campus, which this summer offers 128 different laboratories in Italian and English. In Reggio Emilia,
ragazzedigitali offers code-specific courses for girls while MondoDigitale
has organised a week in Sicily to build collaborative robots and reflect on the
fight against the mafia. TribuDigitali in Puglia offers a weekly coding and storytelling course organised on a camp site. To-Science is an itinerant lab on science, nature and technology and in Florence it’s possible to work on 3D modeling and robotics. Brick4kids offers courses around the world to Lego lovers and in Turin has chosen to set them in a small airport where the kids can talk to the pilots and visit the control tower.
There are plenty of opportunities in other parts of Europe. In Portugal, for
example, the Estudios de Fatima Center organises the Summer Code Camp with projects based on the use of Raspberry, while Digitalswitzerland with its next generation program offers coding, robotic and entrepreneurial courses. Digipen offers art, animation and sound design courses from Bilbao to Singapore. Students taking part in ConMasFuturo in Madrid learn to build amphibious vehicles with Arduino, videogames with Unity and also how to design a smart home with IoT.
Learning STEM during a summer course is undoubtedly useful but probably not enough. The pupils who start to go to school today will have a 100-year-long life expectancy and the prospect of retiring at 80. They will have at least two to three different careers in their lives: they must be prepared to face this kind of challenge, since it is very difficult to predict today how work will
change in 10 or 20 years.
The most interesting courses should immerse the kids in the lives of people around them and allow them to design ways to make life better for everyone, developing the passion to look for the unexpected and to find ways to overcome the impossible.
Are the summer digital camps an opportunity to reinvent school or
learning? What is your experience? What do you expect from STEM courses
as parents, teachers or students?