With another school year in the books, it’s time to plan for summer — and if you haven’t yet signed up for our newsletter, you may not have heard about all the summer activities that YouthSpark is sponsoring across the nation. To give young people a chance to be creative and keep their brains sharp during the break, Microsoft YouthSpark and some of our partners are offering several free education programs designed to build computer science skills in a fun, collaborative way.
In-Person Summer Camps
Taking place in cities around the U.S., these summer camps do more than teach computer science — they also promote teamwork and problem-solving, and expose youth to the computational thinking that’s becoming so valuable in both school and work. For girls and boys, beginners or seasoned coders, these programs help kids learn to build their own virtual worlds and create useful new apps of their own:
- Girls Make Games: Designed specifically for girls, this camp teaches game development through an immersive curriculum that includes game design, game art and, of course, programming as well as general exposure to the STEM field. Participants in this three-week camp will work to form teams and create their own video game demo. The top five teams from around the country will be flown to California to present their ideas to a panel of industry professionals, and the first-place team will receive a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production and publishing of their game.
- Microsoft Store Summer Camps: Microsoft Stores offer free camps year-round where kids ages eight and older get hands-on experience with the latest technology as they learn to code, create games, and use their creativity and imagination. This summer’s featured camps include Kodu Makerspace, Learn to Code Flatverse and Start Your Own Business for young entrepreneurs. In addition, Be an Inventor with littleBits is exclusively available at the Microsoft Flagship Stores in New York and Sydney. Visit your local Microsoft Store events page to learn more about workshops available in your community.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America Computer Science Education: Microsoft is partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to offer pilot computer science education programs in 25 locations across the U.S. The programs are designed to let young people get exposed to technology and learn computer science education concepts and skills. Check out their web site for more details.
- DigiGirlz: Each year DigiGirlz gives middle and high school girls opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. This summer there are several one-day DigiGirlz Day events and three-day DigiGirlz High Tech Camps to choose from around the country.
YouthSpark also offers online workshops and tutorials to help youth build their technology skills wherever they are:
- Minecraft Hour of Code. The Minecraft Hour of Code online tutorial introduces players to basic coding within the fun and popular Minecraft environment. Created by Minecraft game designers together with Code.org, the tutorial features Steve and Alex from Minecraft along with challenges to solve inspired by the game.
- YouthSpark Hub. The YouthSpark Hub provides free programs, events and online resources to help young people express themselves creatively through computer science. The Hub offers these resources year-round to help kids build digital skills and explore ways that learning computer science can help them go further.
Looking Ahead to Next Year
Some of YouthSpark’s other programs are already well underway, or require advanced skills and an invitation to participate. Kids who already have some tech savvy and are looking to express their creativity and ingenuity in the coming months should start looking into these programs now:
- Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. YouthSpark is proud to partner with Girls Who Code to invite girls across the country to see where coding can take them. Working to inspire, educate and equip girls with the computing skills needed to pursue future opportunities, the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is a 7-week intensive computer science course that’s free for invited attendees. Throughout the course, girls learn everything from robotics and mobile development to HTML and CSS. This year camps are taking place in the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, New York and Redmond — and it’s never too soon to start planning for next year or to found a Girls Who Code club at your school.
- Imagine Cup. Each year hundreds of budding engineers and computer scientists team up for one of the world’s toughest and most creative technology challenges. The Imagine Cup provides an opportunity for high school and college students across all disciplines to team up and use their passion and knowledge of technology to create applications, games and solutions that can change the world. Over the summer, we encourage kids interested in the program to keep track as we announce our 2016 winners, and to sign up to participate or start their own team next year.
Sign Up Today
If you want to hear more about YouthSpark programs year-round, make sure and subscribe to our free email newsletter. This summer’s workshops are a great place for young people to express their curiosity, make new friends and learn some valuable new skills in the process. Space is filling fast, so interested kids and parents should take a look at programs they want to attend — and sign up today!
— The YouthSpark Team