College of Computing’s Tips for a STEM-Filled Summer

School’s out for the summer and, by now, some parents may be wondering how to stave off the brain drain or keep their kids involved in stimulating activities. The learning doesn’t have to stop for STEM-minded students. Georgia Tech’s College of Computing offers these tips for those who want to explore science and technology while school is out.

Assistant Dean for Outreach, Enrollment & Community Cedric Stallworth and Director of Computing Outreach for the Institute for Computing Education Barb Ericson from Georgia Tech share these ways your student can have a STEM-filled summer.  

1. Hour of Code
Code.org’s international initiative to broaden programming literacy is open and accessible to all ages. Anyone age 4 to 104 can learn to write their first computer program - with Anna and Elsa from Disney’s ‘Frozen’ and advancing to their own “Flappy Birds” game. The fun doesn’t stop after an hour, of course. The set includes 19 other tutorials to allow continued exploration. Tutorials are available for computers, tablets, phones, and the ‘unplugged.’

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2. Scratch
A free programming language and online community, Scratch from MIT invites those ages 8-16 at any skill level to easily create games, interactive stories, and animations. Students can share their creations with an online community. Scratch is perfect for parents and students to learn together. 

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3. Camps
Heightened interest in technical literacy nationwide has resulted in numerous new camps across the country providing students with an exciting atmosphere to become tomorrow’s innovators. The College of Computing is still accepting registrations for multiple upcoming camps in June and July for third to eighth graders, focused on robotics, games, wearables, and more. Visit the College’s Office of Outreach Enrollment & Community website for details.

4. LEGO Mindstorms NXT
LEGO’s programmable robotics kit for ages 10 and up is only the beginning of how serious the traditional toy brick company is about automated machines. LEGO also administers multiple competitive leagues where students can solve real-world challenges for college scholarships. Visit the LEGO Mindstorms website to learn more. 

5. Arduino
Arduino boards are programmable microcontrollers that can make almost any object interactive. The inexpensive boards are suitable for middle and high school students. Arduino kits and related items are available at Radio Shack and Arduino.cc.

6. MIT App Inventor (formerly App Inventor for Android) 
Newcomers and veteran programmers alike are perfect candidates to craft the next great Android app via MIT App Inventor. The open-source tool has made programming and app creation accessible to a wide range of audiences. More than 3 million registered users have created 9.2 million apps since it was unveiled in 2010. A variety of MIT App Inventor resources are available from the Institute for Computing Education’s website.

7. MOOCs
Advanced high school students can leave their classmates behind by completing a massive open online course, or MOOC. Harvard and Stanford offer their massively popular introductory computer science courses through online learning platforms edX and Coursera respectively for free. CourseTalk features a convenient guide, complete with reviews, to help students and parents identify other great online learning opportunities.

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