Summer Programs For Kids With a Passion for Tech

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There have always been camps and summer programs for kids who are interested in sports or recreation, but what about those who have a passion for science and technology?  Unfortunately, it takes more than playing video games or streaming movies to foster a passion for coding, building, or programming.  Luckily, there are a handful of programs for those kids who find themselves more interested in technology and engineering rather than a sport or physical activity.  We have found 5 possible summer programs that are not only fun and affordable, but also quite educational.

#1 Maker Camp

Maker Camp is a virtual summer camp that is accessed through the internet.  This summer program for kids begins on July 6th and runs for 6 weeks.  Each day, “campers” that have registered will receive details and tutorials to build a project.  Throughout the 6 week program, there are different themes including: movie making, sustainable energy and food, and making instruments.  The diversity of the material keeps “campers” interested and coming back.  Maker Camp also offers hosted camps that allow kids to collaborate with one another on projects.  Maker Camp is a free service that is sure to spark the scientific creativity of any interested child.  This is one of the best summer programs for kids with a passion for tech because it not only keeps them busy for the summer months but also helps them develop skills in engineering and problem solving.

maker camp

#2 DIY.org

An alternative to the free service offered by Maker Camp, DIY.org offers month long camps for $10 for the first month and $39.99 for each child each month after that.  DIY.org features virtual themed camps and counselors that guide participants through challenges and projects.  DIY.org is a great summer program for kids who are interested in building or inventing; they offer courses that cover topics such as: Lego Master Camp, Minecraft Architecture Camp, and Inventor Training Camp.  During these camps, participants accept and complete projects related to the topic at their own pace during the 4 week session.  Perhaps the only drawback of DIY.org is that it is only offered on devices that run iOS, so you will need an iPod touch, iPad, or iPhone to view challenges and post progress photos.  Though it is only for iOS, DIY.org is still one of the most engaging summer programs for kids with a passion for engineering or inventing.

#3 Mad Science

The Mad Science program is not new at all.  In fact, I participated in Mad Science at my elementary school some 15 years ago.  This is a great summer program for kids who are interested in science, because they get to approach it in a more open way than they would in a science lab at school.  Some of the activities that take place during Mad Science programs include: rocket building, chemical experiments, robotics tests, and forensics.  Mad Science programs are for kids as young as 4 years old, and are hosted at community centers and schools throughout the Sacramento area.  The classes last about 3 hours, and the prices vary but can be expected to total about $150/week.  This may be a bit more pricey than the two previous virtual camps, but nothing can compare to hands-on experience with an actual lab instructor.

mad science

#4 Play Well Technologies

Play Well Technologies is a Lego and robotics day camp throughout the Sacramento region in which participants build and wreck function robots or drones in order to learn engineering concepts while building with Legos.  This is one of the most fun and informative summer programs for kids, because they get to learn hands-on while they themselves build structures and figure out the structural flaws.  This camp creates a strong foundation for engineering and building by simply expanding on a beloved children’s toy, the Lego.  Play Well Technologies offers camps for children ages 5-12, with groups based on age.  The price for a Play Well Technologies program is about the same as the Mad Science program discussed previously.

#5 Summer of Minecraft

Perhaps one of the oddest summer programs for kids is Summer of Minecraft. Summer of Minecraft is a virtual camp that takes place within the world of Minecraft.  Participants have an opportunity to learn the basics of building as well as beginning coding.  This program begins on July 6th and lasts for 5 weeks with weekly challenges, live streams, and forums that are free and open to all.  There is also an option to access connected camps for $150.  For this price, children ages 9-13 get access to counselors that are Minecraft experts, and are part of a server of connected campers that can collaborate on certain tasks or challenges.  Although not the most traditional of summer camps, Summer of Minecraft is certainly an option to consider when searching for summer programs for kids.

connected camps

Although children today would be satisfied to sit at home and play on their computer or iPad for days on end, it is important that parents and children alike attempt to find a healthy, constructive passion.  It is our hope that these summer programs for kids will help to inspire passion in the realm of technology and engineering.  No matter the age of the child, there are virtually endless possibilities to expand their knowledge and love of science.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.

Video Transcript

Connected Ken Rudulph: Yeah, Mark is finding out about some summer activities that can motivate a love of science and technology and more.

Mark: Yeah, your kids might have fantasies about just sitting on their iPad all day long just streaming some video or maybe playing some video games like Minecraft. But, oh no! You can actually use these tools to better their minds, make them part of the creation process.

Ryan Eldridge: Yeah, in the old days we used to had to go off to camp, get our bag all together, and then we would head off to camp, and wouldn’t see our parents for a few.

Mark: Yeah

Ryan Eldridge: Now, we just sit in front of a computer for a while. So, here’s some of the cool camps that are out right now.

Mark: We are talking about virtual camps and camps they can go to.

Ryan Eldridge: Yes! This is a virtual camp called Maker Camp. This is pretty fantastic. This is for any kid that’s eight to twelve. They can participate online. Sign-ups are going on now. Starts on July 6th.

Mark: They can go on virtual field trips.

Ryan Eldridge: Yeah! The great thing about this is that they send them a new project everyday. And so they got counselors online. They can walk you through. And then you can work at your own pace. You can build things. This is kind of cool. You can make your own film. And they have a little film fest at the end.

Mark: That’s very cool. So, that’s week one. Every week a different thing.

Ryan Eldridge: Every week is a different thing and it runs for six weeks and it’s totally free. And if they want something with a little more guidance, they do have Maker Camp locations you can go to. These are hosted camps by volunteers. And so, it’s not a place where you could just drop your kid off. you go with them and then you can make these things. So, there’s several locations all around Sacramento, where you go to these things.

Mark: So, part of it is hand on, part virtual, and also you have someone that actually walks you through it.

Ryan Eldridge: Exactly.

Mark: Got it.

Ryan Eldridge: So, you can go to Makercamp.com to check that out. This is one of my favorite virtual camps. This is by diy.org/camps. This is pretty cool. Here we have some Minecraft stuff happening.

Mark: Wait, Minecraft?

Ryan Eldridge: Yeah. Isn’t that the best?

Mark: Summer camp Minecraft?

Ryan Eldridge: Yeah, so here you can go into specific categories to learn specific things. This runs for about four weeks online. You have counselors that walk you through all of the different themes. It helps you do things from learning how to do film again to all kinds of wonderful things.

Mark: Do we need to send you back to camp?

Ryan Eldridge: Yeah, I think we need to go back to camp.

Mark: Comic book camp. All kinds of virtual camps.

Ryan Eldridge: Exactly. So, this is the one we are going to be doing… actually this is something that my son does at after school.

Mark: Okay.

Ryan Eldridge: It’s called “Mad Science”. So, the cool part about this camp is you can do things like track dinosaurs, you can play around with yucky, gucky stuff and chemicals. You can learn all kinds of great stuff. This camp runs about $150. It runs for four weeks.

Mark: This isn’t virtual. This one we are actually sending them to the place.

Ryan Eldridge: This one you go to. Yes. The great thing about this one is you got a teacher there that is guiding them through and they are messing around getting all gucky and messy. You drop them off for three hours a day. It works pretty great.

Mark: I love this one. “With the wonders of chemistry you can make things that are extremely yucky.”

Marianne McClary: Yay!

Mark: That’s my kind of camp!

Marianne McClary: Now, that one caught my eye.

Ryan Eldridge: So, this the one that we will be going to later on today. This is where you can build robots and drones. Kids can tear things apart all with legos. They learn about engineering concepts with legos and it works really fantastic. My son is at this camp right now. This runs $150. Again, it runs about four weeks and it’s a three hour camp. It’s a drop off camp so you can take your kids there, drop them off, and they can learn all kinds of engineering concepts there.

Mark: Multiple locations? Or is this one place where it’s at they can go to?

Ryan Eldridge: Well, they hold these in different schools, in different community centers all around. If you go to playwell.org/camps, you can see all the different locations they’ve got going on.

Mark: We will link all that stuff.

Ryan Eldridge: So, here’s another great one. This is another virtual camp. This one teaches your kid how to code as well as play in Minecraft. So, they have a Minecraft sever that they set up where the counselors are at. The counselors have different little instructions, things they do on the sever itself. So, it’s a safe environment for your kids. They teach them how to build, how to code things within Minecraft. And its’s all hosted. So, you don’t have to worry about any weirdos or anything like that on Minecraft.

Mark: That is awesome. But, you probably have a very specific type of kid that you have an idea probably wants to get deeper inside and start creating some of this online content.

Ryan Eldridge: If they’re just going in there and playing around and messing around, maybe not. But, if someone really really wants to get in there and build a huge spaceship or they want to do all kinds of great stuff, again teaches you engineering concepts, science, and how things work.

Mark: My kids are too lazy to even play Minecraft now. They just want to watch YouTube channels of the other kids playing Minecraft. Where should they go?

Ryan Eldridge: Well, if they go in here, they can watch other kids do it and they can just stand there.

Mark: Okay.

Marianne McClary: There you go.

Ryan Eldridge: They watch them do it.

Mark: Exactly. I have wallflower camp kids. Either way there’s a place for everybody. We are going to link all this information to gooddaysacramento.com.

Ryan Eldridge: Great.

Mark: Nerds on Call.

Ryan Eldridge: Thanks Mark.

Mark: Ryan, thank you very much as always. We will link all their information too.