We are really excited about the October 2013 half term! While it seems like we are well on our way, October is actually a number of “firsts” for us. Some have been challenging and some are just exciting!
It’s our first camp away from our home base of Imperial College. The Emanuel School in Battersea has great facilities and we are delighted to be holding our half term tech camps there! We have PC labs, Mac labs, and a big room to get down on the floor with robotics. Emanuel gets a special chapeau for having a progressive stance in computing – in looking around for schools we were very surprised by the number of schools and academies (many of them supposedly tech-focused) who could not accommodate a class that needs internet access! One parent said, now you know why your classes are in such demand. I have to say that was pretty surprising/disappointing to me! However, there are notable exceptions and Emanuel is one of them. So the venue is fantastic.
It’s our first camp when the undergrad tutors are in the middle of term-time at Imperial – so we have an awesome crop of fresh tutors that are PhD candidates joining some of the tutors who were with us last summer! We held our training recently and I was sitting in a room full of Imperial PhD candidates – the mind boggles at the firepower putting together LEGO Mindstorms that day!
It’s our first “Learn Python with Minecraft” class. We are teaching 14+ year old kids Python, Raspberry Pis AND Minecraft. How cool is that? Actually they will do a couple of days on the PCs and then we’ll switch over to the Raspberry Pis for the Minecraft Pi part. It’s going to be super fun! Were also adding a Java class in December, building out our programming repertoire!
It’s our first Engduino project! The Computer Science department at UCL is coming on Thursday afternoon to show our 12-14 year old robotics students their new boards and we get to play with them all day Friday, too. An Engduino is basically an Arduino, hacked to provide integrated LEDs, Accelerometer, Thermistor, Light Sensors, Magnetometers, and Infrared! Have I missed anything? We have a bunch of projects all set up for the kids to work on, and we look forward to seeing what the kids will be able to hack together! Maybe Mindstorms + Engduino projects!
We plan to keep growing and stretching, adding new courses, new resources and new formats all the time! Our next camps will be the week of 16-20 December. Unfortunately not all of the schools are out at that point, but after that we’re into Christmas itself, which seemed like a difficult time to run camps. December camps will be ready for booking in the next few days so keep an eye out for that! We are also finalising our weekend format! We’ve had lots of people ask us for opportunities to keep their kids creating with technology during the school year. The first weekend course will be a Python coding class. We are also planning to do a Java coding class, using the Greenfoot wraparound methodology/product for young people 12+. We’ll be running these as short series, probably on Sunday afternoons. We’d love to hear feedback from you on the courses, formats and locations you’d be most interested in on the weekends.
Also, cheekily, word of mouth is our very best marketing! If you have kids and parents you know who would like to know more about Fire Tech Camp – please forward them a copy of our e-flyer! Or why not send it to your child’s school or your HR department? We think lots of parents are looking for ways to help their kids learn tech and creativity skills and you can help them!
Beyond Fire Tech Camp: We publish updates and activities often on Facebook as we prefer not to email people too frequently – so be sure to “like” us there to hear more frequent updates and suggestions! There are a number of great activities coming up soon for young techies – Wired NextGen is this weekend and MozFest October 24th – 27th should both be excellent. It’s also the final days of the days of The Future is Here at the Design Museum – super exhibit where you can see how 3D printers work and how rapid prototyping and customisation is changing our world! For a 20% discount during these closing weeks, use the promotional code LASTCHANCE20 when you book your ticket! And “3D: Printing the Future” has just opened up at the Science Museum – that one is FREE. So much to do in and around London with your favourite young people!
Hopefully this newsletter is helpful as you look to support creativity and tech skills. We always welcome your feedback as we plan Fire Tech Camp’s future offerings, and any introductions that you would like to make to schools or corporate organisations who would like to spread the word or participate in some way!