Last week, I introduced you to Microsoft Youthspark, the initiative to get children involved with crucial STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – skills early in life. One way that they’re providing these opportunities are through free programs that can parents can take advantage of, both in person and online, to get their children started.
Microsoft Summer Camps
Microsoft offers free YouthSpark Summer Camps in their stores for children aged 8 and older where children can learn game coding and design. Each camp lasts for 4 days and lasts for 2 hours every day; and while the kids get real-world experience with coding, parents can get a PC tune-up! The Summer Camps are broken down by age range and are available for both beginner and intermediate skill levels. I think this is such a fantastic program for all children, especially those who may not have access to a lot of technology at home or school. To find out if Microsoft Youthspark Summer Camps are available in your area, click here to view a list of participating stores by state and register. These camps are very popular, as you can imagine, so hurry and register today!
2015 Break Into Code Contest
Perhaps your child wants to learn coding, but you don’t live near a participating Microsoft store – or they just want to continue to develop those skills after Camp is over! That is why Microsoft also has an online initiative that is available to any child with an Internet connection. The 2015 Break Into Code contest is a free online program that can be used from any device to create and modify your own online game. This self-directed program can be used from any device, including an iPad, and helps the user intuitively learn how to make their own game from the ground up. It reminds me a lot of how I learned basic web development as a teen in the 1990s, and I am so grateful I had access to a computer at that time as those are the same skills I use in my job every day as an adult. I can’t over-emphasize how important I think it is for children to be able to learn these skills early on!
To participate, just visit the Break Into Code website and register. Children can participate just for fun, or they can also enter their final creation into the contest until June 7th for a chance to win cash prizes between $1,000 and $3,000. Families can also take advantage of more free online programs through the Imagine Developer Network, an absolutely fantastic resource for any child wanting to learn code. The Break Into Code contest is also a part of the Imagine Cup initiative, which you’ll be hearing more about in coming posts.
How do you get your children interested in technology? Will you be taking advantage of these programs?