How to Keep Kids Learning
At Hamilton STEM Camp, we understand that modern learning means getting kids to use their computers and their hands.
The combination of these two modes of learning — with and without screens — results in children who understand how to engage with complex ideas in both the real and virtual worlds.
We designed our summer camp to make sure that campers go home with a passion for at least one of our three primary learning categories: robotics, coding and inquiry-based learning.
But what then? How do you encourage continued STEM learning for excited children who want to advance from coding in Minecraft to coding their own website?
Don’t worry! We’ve done the heavy lifting for you.
We have paired some of our all-time favorite camp activities with products or games that your little Einstein-in-training can use to continue growing their minds — long after their final day at STEM Camp.
You might have heard about Edisons and Ozobots already — they’re quite beloved by campers. These perennial favorites offer children the joy of playing with and controlling real robots.
Whether your child loves robots because of “Star Wars,” “Transformers” or just because they’re really fun, our campers learn to use the simple but powerful programming language of Scratch to immerse themselves in hands-on coding with real-world applications.
But the robotics activities don’t end there. What young boy doesn’t love Iron Man, right? That’s why we offer the Robotics Challenge: “Build Iron Man’s Next Robot.” This activity uses the EM4 Educational Motorized Robot kit to build a battery-operated robot, like Tony Stark’s suit, which students then get to take home!
Big Engineering Makerspace Coding Set by Thames & Kosmos
Suitable for children 8 and older, this huge kit comes with a whopping 258 pieces.
It teaches kids to build 20 different models, focusing on marine vehicles, submersibles, buoyancy, wind power, rotation, gears, energy conversion, center of gravity, balance, pneumatics, hydraulics, statics, and optics. Advertised as a “comprehensive and ambitious STEM experience,” it comes with a 128-page manual. Kids learn to build things like a hydraulic lift, robotic arm, pneumatic shock absorber, and even a selfie stick. There are many hours of building and learning involved with this toy, and that doesn’t include the time spent actually playing with the models! Parents can also have fun building these models with their kids, especially if they need a little help.
Advanced Camp Activity:
Edison Robotics Program
As campers improve their ability level with coding and robotics, we have additional challenges ready for them. The Edison bot can be programmed four ways: by barcode (introductory), EdBlocks (simple programming language), EdScratch (similar to Scratch, developed by MIT for kids), and EdPython (uses Python, an advanced and powerful programming language). We’ve produced 14 amazing activities to challenge and help campers learn, whatever their level of understanding. You’ll have to come to STEM Camp to try them all!
Advanced Home Activity:
ELEGOO UNO R3 Project Smart Robot Car Kit
If you have a child with advanced skills in coding and robotics, then this ELEGOO robot car is a great choice to continue their education while having fun! It’s user-friendly and a perfect starter project for a kid who wants to bring their STEM Camp passion back home!
The Smart Robot Car includes several modes like infrared, obstacle, and line-tracking, which the user controls via the car’s programming, which they must create, load and run themselves.
This toy will likely bring hours of entertainment, and your child will find something to love about it. It has 24 parts for the assembly, then your child can use an Android or iOS phone to control their car remotely!
In so many ways, technology and programming represent the future of the global marketplace. Nearly every industry is going to be transformed in coming years by advanced software, artificial intelligence and other computer technology — if they haven’t already.
The youngest generations need to have at least some coding skills to get ahead when they start looking for jobs or apply for college. And for the young Canadians of the future who have advanced coding skills? Well, we think we’ll be reading about them in Forbes and Wired.
To help prepare the next generation, STEM Camp has developed introductory activities for coding using Minecraft and Scratch. Even young kids can start to think like a programmer, but we’ve also prepared advanced challenges for experienced campers!
Minecraft Coding – IF/THEN Coding
An introduction to thinking like a programmer, first through understanding a little of what goes into making a game like Minecraft, and then one of the most important techniques in Coding — IF/THEN statements!
This activity serves as a fantastic introduction to the basic concepts of coding, while being fun and involving all campers.
How would we convince kids to love science without Star Wars? At the least, it has brought many more young minds into the realm of science.
This programmable R2D2 is so fun even the adults of the house will want to play with it. Most importantly, the programming of this toy uses Scratch Blocks, which STEM Camp also uses in its summer camp!
That means your child will hit the ground running with this toy, empowering them to use their STEM Camp coding skills at home! Even if they’re new to Scratch, the program is easy to use and learn.
The Droid Inventor Kit includes six circuit components that can be used several ways with the Lego-like structure, allowing kids to build droids that move on both hardwood and carpeted floors.
It helps teach coding concepts like: order of operations, following commands, logical operators, conditional statements, wait for input, and counting loops.
Advanced Camp Activity:
Advanced Coding – Edison Coding Program
As campers grow their comfort level with coding, additional challenges are available as well. The Edison bot can be programmed with 4 methods: by barcode (introductory), EdBlocks (simple programming language), EdScratch (similar to Scratch, developed by MIT for kids), and EdPython (uses Python, an advanced and powerful programming language). We’ve produced 14 amazing activities to challenge and help campers learn, whatever their level of understanding.
Advanced Home Activity:
Let’s Start Coding Ultimate Kit
This award-winning coding kit is a great choice for boys and girls aged 10 to 14.
“Ultimate” is right. This kit walks your child through complex coding and electronics concepts with creative projects that include building a police siren and a light system that turns on and off with hand claps.
After using this kit, children learn coding concepts including: loops, functions, following commands, order of operations, conditional statements, input/output, wait for input, variables, and debugging.
This is a great gift for children who already feel motivated to learn and explore the world of electronics and computer coding. It doesn’t have a lot of the cutesy animations or colors to interest younger kids, but older children with an interest in coding will find hours of fun with this.
Once you have downloaded the Let’s Start Coding program, you have three options: ensure that your setup is working correctly, start doing the 14 lessons that establish the basics of coding and electronics, or just choose one of several beginner, intermediate, and advanced projects.
Our effective inquiry-based learning activities will explore many STEM concepts and get kids outside and having fun, just like previous STEM Camp years! Check out some of our exciting inquiry-based learning activities here.
Star Wars – Jabba The Hut Slime
You’re never too old to play with slime, right? Our campers adore this activity. They learn how to make and show off their own slime, just like the slimy “Star Wars” villain Jabba the Hutt. Campers personalize their slime with different colors and bring home their finished slime creation. More than just icky fun, this activity also introduces campers to the concepts of viscosity and Newtonian fluids in a simple way.
Crystal Growing Experimental Kit
Slime-lovers will find another passion with this super-popular kit for growing your own crystals. It comes with seven different crystals and a clear display case that kids can use to show off their creations. The whole family will watch the crystals grow like magic over the course of about 10 days.
For young science-lovers, especially those with an interest in geology or the natural sciences, this is sure to be a hit.
Harry Potter Activity – Arithmancy Class
In this hybrid math and psychology activity, campers will learn more about their personality, while also decoding messages using math. It’s based on Arithmancy, a class that students at Hogwarts take in their 3rd year, which teaches the ability to predict the future with numbers. This one is so fun that campers will forget they’re doing math!
Many of us old folks probably remember a little game called “Number Crunchers,” a super-popular math video game used broadly by public schools and math tutors across the land.
It’s a classic, but the award-winning Sheppard Software has upped the ante with an entire website devoted to math games focused on specific skills. Most of the games are Flash-based, but allow young learners to practice different math concepts without ever repeating the same problem.