STEM Camps and Classes for Robotics, Coding, and Engineering Fun
It's no secret that today's kids will need a robust education in STEM subjects to thrive in an economy exploding with science and technology careers. Both in and outside of schools, educators and parents are looking for ways to provide more science, technology, engineering, and math studies for children. There are many programs out there, but which ones really teach the skills that kids need? We checked out a Sylvan Learning EDGE class to see what Sylvan Learning, long-known for tutoring and test prep programs, offers with its Sylvan EDGE STEM programs.
Sylvan EDGE offers six week programs for kids from grades 1 to 6 in Robotics for Kids, Engineering, Coding for Kids, Math EDGE, plus Sylvan EDGE Camps. My 10-year-old son tried out a Robotics for Kids class, and it definitely stood apart from many of the other STEM activities we’ve tried.
During the robotics class, the kids built a LEGO® carousel and programmed it using LEGO®’s WeDo™ software, allowing them to bring their creations to life. From the get-go, the Sylvan EDGE class stood out to me, when it began with a discussion of vocabulary related to the day's project. The instructor went through each of the five terms—crown gear, spur gear, axle, tilt sensor, and load—and asked students to define them or provide examples of each piece from their building kits, or both. As a parent who sometimes wonders if kids really take that much away from so-called educational programs, I found it gratifying to see these concrete concepts and terms being introduced.
The class session ended with students reviewing the work they had done and completing a worksheet in which they were asked to describe their robot and use the vocabulary learned at the beginning of class. Though the kids grumbled at this educational tool, the instructors looked over their work and made them think more deeply about the class and concepts, if they didn't take it seriously on the first go-round.
Class sizes are kept intentionally small. In this session there was one teacher and a teacher-in-training to the five students. The director of the center told me that, while there's no hard-and-fast rule, they try to keep the classes to eight students or fewer.
The Sylvan EDGE classes seem like a great balance of fun with real educational advantages that aren’t dumbed down. My son agreed that he would love to go back and do more!
Sylvan EDGE programs are offered at Sylvan Learning Centers nationwide. You can sign up now for winter classes or holiday break camps. Find the location nearest you.
All photos by the author.