The Greater Nashville Technology Council (NTC) last week wrapped up its 2020 NTC Technology Summer Camps program, held virtually for the first time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NTC quickly pivoted to host 14 virtual camps for a total of 150 students aged 4th grade through high school.
One of the advantages of going virtual was that the instructors didn’t need to be Nashville-based; students were able to benefit from working with experts from across the country. In addition, going virtual made the camps more accessible to students throughout Middle Tennessee, including Davidson, Robertson, Sumner, Wilson and Williamson counties.
“This program was turned around very fast thanks to an outstanding team led by our director of community relations Susan Charest and our chief of staff Sandi Hoff, who worked around the clock to make it happen,” said Brian Moyer, president and CEO of NTC. “We’ve received fantastic feedback on the program from students, parents and teachers.”
Each camp was designed to engage campers in a fun way to learn and explore technology, encouraging creativity, collaboration, problem-solving and logical thinking. Students worked with applications including Minecraft, SeaSaw, Scratch, Roblox, Python and Java. Local school teachers graciously volunteered to teach the camps, with the help of industry professionals from across the country. NTC also partnered with NY-based Code Advantage and a local coding school, EnCode Create, to provide two-week camps in coding and web development.
“We were thrilled to be able to provide a full line-up of quality summer camps to students that have been home from school since March as a result of COVID-19,” said Charest. “The camps could not have been successful without our rock star public school teachers – who figured out in a short-period of time how to pivot to virtual instruction – and many partner organizations who also helped provide instruction.”
Students in Sumner, Wilson, and Robertson counties were able to attend camps at no cost thanks to a grant from the State of Tennessee. The GO TECH: Growing Opportunities Through Technology program was funded as one of Governor Lee’s GIVE grant projects, a Tennessee state government program focused on growing the state’s skilled workforce.
NTC also partnered with the Metropolitan Action Commission for the fifth year to host the annual Summer Youth Technology Camp. Each summer, a group of underserved 13-15 year olds are selected through a competitive application process for a nine-week advanced tech camp, which this year was taught by Dameion Cowans, a science curriculum writer and STEAM expert, as well as Jeanieca Eubanks, Metro Action’s youth specialist.
The reactions from students were very positive as they commented on their favorite projects:
“Making bottle rockets was a fun way to learn about aerodynamics,” said Ariyah Burns, 14. “I made a few mistakes: I did not fold the nose cone correctly, which made the rocket not act as planned. I had to redo it, but I learned from my mistake, and it worked the second time.”
“Working with the Sphero Balls, we learned about speed and coding,” said Youssef Dous, 14. “This was a fun way to learn about technology.”
Students also learned about more than just tech and science:
“We learned about financial literacy, so I understand why I can and can’t buy something and how to plan for the future,” said Phakayla Blacksmith, 13. “We also worked on social and emotional learning (SEL), where we learned to express our feelings in a positive way. My favorite topic was ‘drama’ because it helped me with my everyday problems.”
For more information about the virtual summer camps, visit technologycouncil.com/codecamps.