Inventive educational opportunities for children are cropping up across the country in an effort to engage their minds and imaginations and reduce the amount of time spent in front of the television set.
Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation in Kentucky is one such effort, offering children between the third and sixth grades the opportunity to participate in weeklong technology courses that range in topic from photography and computer coding to stop motion animation.
The sessions, offered at Highland Elementary School and Scott Elementary School, are sponsored by parent-teacher associations. Campers need not attend either elementary school in order to participate, writes Kaitlin Lange for The Evansville Courier and Press.
“The purpose of the Summer Creative Camp is to give kids an outlet to get an exposure to some of the creative tools there are out there,” camp creator Jerrad Gleim said. “Once they learn some of this stuff and have gotten deep into it, they’ll be able to bring it into the classroom during the school year.”
EVSC focuses on technology for its students through the school year as well, offering each of its students between fifth and twelfth grades a table to use, and hiring employees specifically with the purpose of integrating technology into the classroom.
A similar technological opportunity was created in Boise, Idaho, where John Schiff created an electronics store and education center he calls a “Reuseum.” There he offers workshops for kids, such as the deconstruction lab, that allows children to take things apart and look at their inner-workings. Schiff said allowing children to do that is important in order to compete in today’s global market, which is becoming more and more technology-based.
“Too often times we consider the stuff magic. We don’t even consider that a human being made this,” Schiff said. “We need to understand how things work if we’re to be a country that still creates and innovates.”
Meanwhile, other camps are being created in an effort to bring children out of the technology field and back to nature.
Created by co-founders with an extensive background in the tech industry, Tinkergarten offers younger children, age 18 months through 8 years, the opportunity to develop skills through outdoor, hands-on activities that encourage them to participate in problem-solving situations that help them to become independent individuals.
The idea sprouted from co-founders and husband and wife Brian and Meghan Fitzgerald, who were concerned that children spent too much time surrounded by technology, and not enough time playing outside.
“We were worried that they’re not going to be able to invent things without technology, or to be outside specifically,” explains Meghan. “Will they be able to think freely? Does time outside really matter to people? And what is this lack of time outside doing to kids?”