Most summer camps ban technology, but at Greater Nashville Technology Council and Metro Action Commission summer camp technology is not only allowed, but required.
Founded in 2015, NTC’s Power Youth STEAM Camp is a two-month summer technology camp that aims to inspire middle and high school students to pursue careers in technology through hands-on STEM curriculum and field trips to Middle Tennessee tech companies that provide an “over the shoulder” glimpse of technology careers.
The camp is part of a partnership with Nashville’s Metropolitan Action Commission which provides a variety of opportunities and programs to break the cycle of poverty by increasing family economic security, educational success, and health and well-being from one generation to the next. In the Power Youth STEAM camp, all of the campers are the elder siblings of children in Nashville’s Head Start program.
“This camp eliminates the traditional barriers of camp for low-income families,” Tiffany Fortson, a representative from MAC and camp leader, said. “MAC and NTC take care of the transportation, electronics and meals.”
A bus picks students up and drops them off at their home each day. They are provided with iPads, keyboards, Apple pencils and headphones to use for their coding curriculum and are fed breakfast and lunch everyday. At the end of the summer, the campers get to keep their devices for school in the fall.
After breakfast, campers spend the first three hours of each day learning JAVA — the second most common coding language in the world. It is used to develop a variety of web and mobile applications. Android, one of the world’s most popular platforms, was built on JAVA.
One of the reasons Java development can make for such a lucrative career is because of the technology’s wide uses. Java programming helps developers “write once, run anywhere” due to its ability to be developed on one system and run on any other Java-enabled system without needing adjustment.”
“These students are getting the headstart on coding basics that I wish I had before I began studying computer science,” Jake Doutnit, a Computer Science major at Tennessee Tech and MAC Camp JAVA instructor said.
Students break for lunch at noon each day. Then, from 1:00 to 2:00 , students listen to guest speakers and enjoy making art projects.
NTC organizes what is known as a “Traveling Tech Day” each Friday for students. Traveling Tech Days are field trips to Middle Tennessee tech companies who showcase careers in technology. Visits to S3 Recycling and CGI were highlights for the students this summer . (Link to CGI article in this paragraph)
“For seven years, the NTC has had the privilege to partner with the Metropolitan Action Commission to provide a unique technology-focused summer camp experience to 13-15 year olds.” Sandi Hoff, NTC COO. “The students have the opportunity to learn to code, use robotics, visit technology companies, and hear fantastic guest speakers. At the end of the summer, we hope that each camper has been exposed to a variety of tech careers and has had their eyes open to the wonderful opportunities available for tech education and tech jobs right here in Middle Tennessee.”
To date, more than 150 MNPS students have participated in this summer program.