Dozens of Sacramento-area middle and high school students are participating in a virtual summer camp, engaged in immersive activities that teach computer science concepts. The unique camp is free, and is also preparing the students and their families for distance learning during the upcoming school year. The two-week NorCal Cyber Stories virtual summer camp runs through August 7.
During the camp, the 50 participants are using Zoom video conferencing, MIT’s Scratch programming language, and curriculum created by the Square Root Academy to explore and experiment with coding, storytelling, and more. The curriculum is being hosted on Square Root’s “Scholars’ Playground” virtual learning platform. By the conclusion of the camp, students will have developed their own websites that tell stories of their experiences in 2020.
“We are committed to making equitable computer science education a top priority across California to nurture the next generation of skilled innovators,” said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools. “We are so excited for these students to have the opportunity to participate in this virtual summer camp.”
The camp is a partnership between the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) and Square Root Academy, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating underrepresented youth on the fundamentals of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Other partners include 916 Ink and Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS).
“We are so excited to be partnering with SCOE on the NorCal Cyber Stories Project,” said Nicholas Haystings, CEO of Square Root Academy. “This collaborative effort really provides a unique way to teach our youth the digital skills of tomorrow while infusing storytelling and creative expression. It’s both educational and therapeutic for our youth living and thriving in today’s academic climate.”
Thanks to the generosity of the Sacramento Public Library, the students participating in the camp were also provided with refurbished computers to use at home. They will keep the computers to support their distance learning and practice their newly acquired computer science skills during the upcoming school year.
The NorCal Cyber Stories summer camp is funded by SCOE’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Hub Project through a grant from the K–12 Strong Workforce Program, which offers a suite of services to help create computer science career pathways for students and support professional learning for teachers.