Tips for computing summer camps
- On the first day do some getting to know you activity like those at Getting to know you activities
- Also on the first day talk about what behavior is allowed. Encourage a growth mindset (if you work at things you get better) - rather than a fixed mindset - (you have to be born being able to do this).
- Be sure to include something active each day like a CS unplugged activity (http://www.csunplugged.org). Here is our List of favorite CS Unplugged activities
- Be sure to show how what they are doing relates to jobs http://www.dotdiva.org or http://www.ncwit.org/award/award.index.php or http://www.cs.washington.edu/WhyCSE or http://www.technologyreview.com/lists/innovators-under-35/2013/
- Bring in some near-peer role models like high school girls who have won the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award. Every state has some regional winners. You could bring in a girl who was on a robotics team or an App Development team (Verizon App Challenge). You can also do a hangout with a girl if she can't come and visit.
- Camp isn't school so keep the amount of instruction to a minimum. Also, keep the number of rules to a minimum. The camp room can get noisy, but that is okay. It is sometimes helpful to move the students to another room (away from the computers) for instruction time. But, don't make the mistake of not doing any instruction. Kids want to feel that they are learning something. Have different levels to the activities so that anyone can do the task, but kids with more experience are still challenged.
- You can demonstrate something to the kids and even have them do something along with you but only do this for no more than 15 minutes a time.
- Do give the students a challenge and let them figure it out. Point them to resources.
- Do let the students be creative and work on something they want to do each day.
- Have the students show off what they are doing to each other
- Do have a parent show at the end so that the kids can show off their work
- Assistants should not grab the mouse or keyboard from a student. Talk the student through any problems if possible.
- Take lots of pictures and ask people to smile when you take a picture. If you are taking of picture of something on the computer have the person turn to face the camera so both the author and thing s/he created are in the picture. You can take a few pictures that show the whole room but close up pictures of individuals or groups of students that are smiling and that show what they have been working on are best.
- If some students are losing interest find out what they want to work on. Be flexible. You can always do another CS Unplugged activity at http://www.csunplugged.org
- Know how to do each of the items on the agenda. See the summer camp page for the agenda.
- Always talk about computing careers and show at least some role models for the campers. You can use the dot diva website at http://www.dotdiva.org to show girls role models.
- Don't mention the stereotypes about computing (even if you think you are dispelling them). Do say that computing is interesting and lets you be creative and help people.
- You want people to feel like they belong in computing. Have the kids make up a story about their future in computing and write it down or present it.
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