Offer Computing Workshops and Camps: They Benefit Both Students and the Teachers Who Offer Them

Thinking of using these materials? We would love to hear from you on your experiences of offering a summer camp or workshop and/or using any of the provided materials.

What do you think?

Enrich K-8 Education and Better Prepare Students for the Future

Computing is important. Computing skills and computational thinking are increasingly important 21st-century skills. Most kids are competent computer users, but few can write programs or do computational thinking. These skills are vital for helping students become effective citizens and for preparing them to have influential, rewarding, and flexible careers in a field predicted to have more opportunity than almost any other.

Teachers can help. Teachers have few opportunities during the school year to teach these skills and most students -- especially girls -- are missing out. Teachers can help by offering a computing module in existing workshops or summer camps, or even by offering their own summer programs that reach out and engage girls.

 

Try Out Interesting Ways to Teach Computing

Teachers can:

  • Advance their own computing knowledge and professional capabilities
  • Have fun
  • Try out interesting and creative ways to teach computing -- without having to worry about grading
  • Translate the experience to the classroom for more engaging lessons

Workshops and day camps can be cost-effective for teachers as well as affordable for students.

Engage Girls in Computing

Currently, girls and women are seriously underrepresented in computing professions. For example, in 2008, girls were only 13 percent of the high school seniors who intended to major in computing in college.

Workshops and camps can improve girls' computing skills and confidence, and may increase their interest in computing education and careers.

Interest, confidence, and skills are essential for ensuring that girls participate fully in creating tomorrow's technology.

 

Why Should Young Women Consider a Career in Information Technology

This NCWIT produced resource and its accompanying website provide content that is important to build into the camp/workshop curriculum. 

  • Share information about what a career in IT is and how a student can begin preparing.
  • Provide exposure to female computer scientists, either through role models in the camp (teachers/assistants) or videos.
  • Let participants know of the professional computing organizations and the resources these organizations provide related to computing degrees and careers.

Partner with Established Programs

Many youth-serving organizations already have brand recognition, computer labs, advertising, recruitment, and registration. Find out what is available in your area by contacting your local:

  • YWCA
  • County recreation departments
  • Schools, universities, or colleges
  • 4-H groups
  • Religious organizations

Other organizations may have local offerings as well:

 

Use or Adapt Established Curriculum

Computing content that appeals to girls has been developed by a variety of organizations and professionals. You can adopt or adapt this curriculum for a quick start on topics, examples, and lesson plans. Curriculum resources and sample lesson plans are available. Examples of available content include:

  • Computer Science Unplugged (csunplugged.org) is a free resource that offers engaging physical activities for conveying computing concepts without a computer.
  • Scratch (scratch.mit.edu) is free software that lets kids create 2D animations and games using drag-and-drop programming.
  • Alice (alice.org) is free software that students can use to create 3D movies and games.
  • Python (python.org) is free open source software that works well as a first language.

Explain to Community Organizations the Benefits of Collaboration

Enhance reputation with parents, community, and potential funders. Offering cutting-edge programs that provide youth with important, but often overlooked, computing skills can set organizations apart as leaders in innovative educational programming. Programs that foster technological innovation are increasingly important to policymakers and funding agencies concerned with national innovation and global competitiveness.

Develop future opportunities for youth. CS camps can help students become technology innovators. The 21st century skills that youth acquire translate over time to rewarding, in-demand jobs. Engaging youth in these programs improves community organizations' efforts to better prepare youth and to make a difference in society.

Strengthen local communities. Computer science and technological innovation contribute to local economies because workers can stay close to home, working remotely, or in existing local industries. Even in the short term, students can contribute to their local communities by helping design technical solutions to community problems.

Expand audience, reach, and impact. Targeting a new audience can raise awareness about a community organization's mission and attract a wider range of students to participate in their programs.

Improve your own program without "reinventing the wheel." By collaborating, community organizations gain access to existing content and expertise for effective computer science programs.

Share By the Numbers with potential partnering organizations when pitching the idea for a collaborative effort.

American Camp Association's Creating Camp-School Partnerships provides information on how to achieve successful partnerships.

 

Much of the information provided is from third parties and your experience may vary. We offer it for your convenience in the hope that you will find it helpful. We would love to hear from you on your experiences of offering a summer camp or workshop and/or using any of the provided materials. Please also suggest other materials as this list is not comprehensive.