Summer months for many young students means a time away from the rigors of homework and school projects. That was hardly the case for my siblings and myself. If anything, my father made sure that before summer break started, all four kids were enrolled in a camp or a classroom program that gave us a head start to learn the concepts for the following school year’s curriculum. My father was a strict man and I always wondered if he did this on purpose because we were immigrants and needed to make sure we could get into the right schools, teach us the value of a good education, or just make sure that our minds were continually being challenged. I’m pretty sure it was the latter.
My father also had a sense of humor and knew that his kids deserved to have some fun during the summer, so his grand plan of camps and programs included a class on playing the ever popular Oregon Trail video game on the now obsolete IBM computer with kids in our age group, not for the game but for what it taught our young minds, like the importance of exploring other trails getting to Oregon, the value of food for survival, adapting to unknown terrain, issues around life and death, navigating unsuspecting catastrophes and injuries, and so on and so forth. Essentially, this video game is about life.
The 21st century addresses the same aspects of that video game and presents it in ways that all young students can access while at the same time, have some fun and spark curiosity. Take for example, Saturday Academy’s Animation Adventures class. Designed for students in grades 6-8, students learn the 12 principles of animation and learn about how their favorite cartoons are made and the different jobs that go into making an animated show. And then there’s LEGO Camp! Oh, to be a child again and partake in this camp would be amazing! Learning to construct a bridge using levers, pulleys, and gears with LEGOs then learning how make it moveable, it truly will keep these students engaged! To learn about structural design, mechanical engineering, and physics by way of LEGOs has got to be one of the more innovative ways of learning. Then there’s Calculus Academy, for grades 9-12. Working in teams to solve problems to reveal big ideas behind core calculus topics, I’m pretty sure my father would have loved this class more than me and my siblings!
STEAM education for young students is a way to improve their structural understanding between science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. Today’s summer camps are more innovative than the camps that I attended growing up. It’s leveled-up and kept pace on how young minds are thinking! Creative thinking to create creative design. Our future workforce.
If my father was still alive, I wonder what he would be asking his grandchildren about what they would be doing during their summer breaks. I laugh at this because I know what he would have said, “Are you learning something new?”