Computer science camps can not only provide your child with technical skills, it can also help your child with math and science in school. A camp experience could be the catalyst for advancing and accelerating computer skills, while enhancing writing and other soft skills as well.
What Does it Take to Be a Star in Computer Science?
First, let’s talk about the field of computer science and the skills that are required to be successful, so you can see how a computer science or cyber security summer camp could be a real benefit in helping your child in middle or high school.
Computer scientists generally have strong math skills, computer and technology knowledge, but they have also learned how to be highly organized, possess a strong ability to anticipate and diagnose problems, and must follow a code of ethics.
They are also quite adept at critical thinking, creativity, and possess tenacity and perseverance. To prepare professionally, they have taken coursework in statistics, calculus, linear algebra, but also know how to program, conduct data analysis, and do data visualization.
In addition, writing comes into play. For example, good programmers need to be able to make clear and consistent notes to make the code valuable to their team. As computer scientists move forward in their profession, they also have to write reports and communicate effectively. So, ultimately, even beyond math and science, good technical and general writing skills are quite essential, even in technology fields.
So, now let’s break down the various skills and how they apply to the field of computer science. This will help you see the kinds of skills your child could develop even in during a short summer camp experience. These skills all have direct applications to core subjects in middle and high school and could even potentially ignite an interest in the dynamic and growing field of computer science, cyber-security, or other technology professions.
If you want your child to do better in math, think about how much computer scientists generally love math. They understand and know how to use math-based probability, statistics, and much more. To be clear, where software engineers rely on discrete math as they work out algorithms, hardware engineers use discrete math and automata theory.
So perhaps, you are beginning to see that while your child is attending a camp, this could be a great opportunity to be exposed to the practical applications of math, specifically applied to the field of computer science. If your child loves computers, but does not like math, this is a rich opportunity to show how the two are interconnected.
When you think about science, the various aspects of scientific experimentation, analysis, and exploration are all critical aspects that have direct application in computer science and technology. In computer science, students are developing theories and ideas, testing, analyzing data, and sharing results.
For an even more specific focus, cyber security involves these top skills: problem-solving, tech aptitude, being detail oriented, good communication skills, and forensics.
As a sidenote, cyber security can be considered a subfield of computer science because cyber security specialists require a deep understanding of computers and networks to analyze and prevent data breaches and attacks, monitor systems, and create solutions. There are some summer camps that even offer cyber security as part of their camp or as an elective program.
Here is a brief description of a summer camp elective at Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, California:
“The Cyber Security & Computer Science course introduces the use of Virtual Machines to run Windows 10 and Linux. This program reinforces the scientific process and promotes the appropriate use of technology. It also covers the concepts of personal responsibility for data, online behavior, and digital leadership. Campers will become familiar with the digital defense of operating systems and take responsibility for their data.”
Now, let’s turn to an overview of some of the technical and soft skills your child could acquire in a computer science summer camp.
- Programming: algorithms, data structures, coding
- Mathematics: theory, statistics, calculus, linear algebra
- Scientific Methods: testing, analyzing, experimenting
- Writing: technical information as well as general communications
- Data Analysis: predictive analysis and applications for artificial intelligence
- Critical thinking
- Attention to details
- Creative problem-solving
- Listening and communicating
- Collaboration and leadership
- Ethics and moral decision-making
Finding the Right Computer Science Camp
Some computer science camps provide an academic experience for students that goes beyond technical information. Typically, these summer camps are held at private boarding school campuses for middle and/or high school students.
Some of them offer computer science courses for students during the school year, but some of them also offer specialized camps or electives during the summer. If your teen really wants to be on a college campus, there are some colleges and universities that now offer computer science camps for high school students. However, while going to a college campus could be ideal for a rising senior, it could be a bit overwhelming for younger students, especially those in middle school.
So, if you want your child to live away from home, a boarding school could be an ideal environment because it is like a small-scale university setting. Another plus is boarding schools are often situated in unique places, ranging from urban centers to small villages, from the beach to the mountains. They also have excellent campus facilities, good security and health measures, and hire top notch faculty. The challenging news is that while there are over 300 boarding schools in the U.S., not many offer camps for computer science or cyber-security.
If you are looking for a single gender experience, there is a private independent boarding school for boys in California that offers both a Cyber Security & Computer Science elective as part of their Leadership Camp Programs. If you want to compare boarding schools to university offerings, options include: UCLA, Georgetown, Texas Tech, and Columbia. Whether you choose a boarding school or college campus, learning about computer science within a broader academic context has many advantages.
Back-to-School in the Fall
By aligning math and science with the study of computer science during the summer, your child can acquire a new passion for these core subjects and be better prepared for school. And, even if your child never pursues a career in computer science, today’s youth all really need a strong foundation with computers.
Not only will a computer science summer camp allow your child to explore these subjects in a more relaxed framework, but they will acquire interests and soft skills that will serve them for a lifetime. They will learn how to lead, work in teams, communicate more effectively, apply critical thinking, figure out solutions, and understand ethics and values within a new context.
So, let’s imagine your child enrolled in a summer computer science camp or one with an elective program and is now heading back to school in the fall. Let’s look at some ways, parents can encourage their teenager to maximize this camp experience.
- Encourage your child to share some of the skills they learned during the summer camp through presentations and class-related computer projects at school.
- Let teachers know about the camp experience, so they can tune-into your child’s new level of interest in math and science as it relates to computer science.
- Continue to allow free time for your child to pursue their passions and interests with computers. Remember, Steve Jobs played for hours with computers in his garage! Teens need time to tinker.
- Take your child to college campuses during springs breaks or summer months to explore their computer science offerings.
- Find someone in the field who can broaden your child’s knowledge of careers in computer science and set up a discussion.
Thinking About the Fall?
Who knows, while your teen is attending camp, you might even find a new private school for fall enrollment. A summer camp at a private boarding school can be a great way to gain exposure and hone computer skills, but could also be a way to assess a private school for future enrollment. Some boarding schools even offer many interesting electives during the academic year, such as: drones, aviation, cyber-security, and leadership training.
It is also not too late to apply, even during the summer months. Many boarding schools reserve some spaces so that campers have a chance to interview and apply during the summer for the fall. Want to check out a camp or school’s reviews? Check the school’s Facebook page, but also look at Boarding School Review, Niche, and Great Schools.
Contact our Summer Programs Office today for additional info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 760.547.5288
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