STEM and design summer camp moves online
Robotics And Beyond of New Milford is adapting many of its popular STEM and design summer camp topics for online learning.
The topics provide introductory to advanced levels of a broad array of science, technology and design-related fields for students ranging from elementary to high school, early college, and alternative paths for adults for career training or personal interest.
“Like every organization in the world, we have needed to adapt to the impact of the coronavirus,” said Paul Chayka, director.
“Our summer programs are very popular and valuable to young people in the region and we want to make as many topics as possible accessible from home,” he said.
Topics, designed for individuals ages 5 to 7, 8 to 18 and adult, include robotics, electronic circuit design, graphic design and animation, 3D modeling and 3D printing, coding in Java, Python and Scratch, Minecraft World Building, engineering design challenges, game design with Unity, and building a personal computer.
Very advanced levels will again be offered in the Academy series for some topics.
Fees range from $75 to $150 for the classes that range from 45 minutes to two and a half hours.
Several topics for youths ages 8 to 13 will include both online meetups with the instructor and a kit of parts or materials with which to design and build.
The week-long classes will be offered from June 22 through Aug. 14 between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Each topic will be held at the same time Monday through Friday of a given week.
Topics for youths ages 5 to 7 will not involve any online instruction but will include a kit of materials to use in solving design challenges.
“Most of the topics will be taught using online learning tools that students and parents have become familiar with in the last two months, such as Zoom, Google Classroom and Discord,” Chayka said.
“Our peer mentors are excited to use their recent experiences with online learning, forced by COVID-19, and create fun, engaging experiences for their students,” he said. Our goal is to keep as much of the community, in-person feel as possible that has become such an important part of our camps.”
“Most of our topics are well suited to teaching online because they involve the use of software or other technology tools that are essential for learning and using skills required in today’s schools and workplace,” he said.
The addition of online learning was already in the future for Robotics And Beyond
A three-year plan was being developed to increase the reach, capacity and impact of RAB’s programs.
“We were set to hold a major ‘friendraiser’ event in April to inform potential donors of our plans and hopefully gain their support for our vision,” Chayka said, noting the pandemic led the group to cancel the event.
“That vision included online content so we are just putting it in place sooner than we thought,” he said. “Another phase we have begun is our free, weekly STEM and design newsletter ‘Toolkit,’ https://stemtoolkit.org, which contains fun, interesting resources and activities geared to different age groups.”
“Of course, we will again hold in-person programs as soon as possible, hopefully starting in September,” Chayka said. “Ultimately, by making our content available both in-person and online we will have greater impact than ever.”