One stated mission at Fire Tech Camp is to teach young people to create and innovate using technology. If that’s our goal, how do we measure success?
We gave that a lot of thought from the very first days of hatching our plans for Fire Tech Camp. Luckily I had spent some time working with some of the leading lights in “social enterprise” around the same time I was formulating my plans, and I understood that if I was striving to make an impact, I was going to need to measure that. Even more luckily, a classmate of mine from business school (those many years ago!) is an expert in the field and was happy to help me think through this and design robust measurement tools.
We have set up a process to ask each camper about their attitudes and behaviour before and after their experience at tech camp. The initial results are encouraging: Survey results provided evidence that the camps strengthened positive attitudes towards computers and robotics *and* intentions to study and work in technology fields.
Even more importantly, our early results suggest that the programme may change the nature of screen time, from passive entertainment to active creation. Campers indicated that they plan to spend more time creating technology (websites, robots, games, and apps) but did not plan to spend more time using existing technology (playing games, surfing the internet, using email, shopping online, doing schoolwork). This is exactly the report card we were hoping for – our kids are getting off their couches and working on creating with their new tech skills! Despite the small sample, these were meaningful results, and we look forward to seeing more data bear this out as our programme grows this summer and beyond.
Huge thanks to all of the campers and parents who participated in our surveys – and special thanks to Gargani + Company for their expertise in programme design and evaluation and support in collecting and analysing the data.