Friday Closing - Presentation Day!
By Akemi Bourgeois
So what exactly have your aspiring young scientists at The Tech Summer Camps been up to all week? Whether your child spews forth every camp detail or whether she replies with the standard zero information "it was good" when asked about her day at camp, Friday closing is an end-of-the-week presentation where parents get to see the week come together.
Each session, morning and afternoon, has its own Friday presentation. My kids had both a morning class (Kitchen Chemistry) and afternoon class (Beg. Computer Programming) so I had presentations begin at 11:30am and 3:30pm, respectively.
We parents met in the group entrance lobby of The Tech Museum of Innovation. Camp Director, BJ kicked off the event with an overview of the program. The Tech Summer Camp is powered by Galileo Learning whose mission it is to create a world of fearless innovators! Innovation is a creative and collabortive process and that's just what BJ and his crew had been busy modeling all week: Innovation (just like its namesake).
So we stepped into the classrooms, seeking out our innovators. Apparently, in kitchen chemistry, my boys had been busy all week innovating with their stomachs in mind. They'd made pretzels, pizzas, ice cream and meringue cookies and were just putting the finishing touches on chocolate chip cookies when we arrived. The classroom smelled delicious!
Throughout the week, my boys had only told me what they'd made and ate during kitchen chemistry, nothing more. But when I looked around the classroom, I was impressed by the posters explaining some of the chemistry behind what they'd cooked (and ate)!
The kitchen chemistry class was located in an upper level classroom, a place I'd never before seen in our many visits to the museum. It really was set up like a chemistry lab, with high counters and stools all around. The Kitchen Chemistry class had been modified slightly to include toaster ovens and other small appliances.
The class had been divided into groups, and each group had been encouraged to modifiy its ingredients and note any change in outcome. My son's group shared a mistake that turned out to be alright although I wasn't able to glean exactly what that mistake was, but it couldn't have been too bad because all the cookies got eaten (and apparently, one mom stuffed three into her purse!).
All week, I'd wondered about the chemistry part of the cooking. Was it just cooking like the basic cooking class I'd had in middle school, with no value added? But in talking with the camp leaders and in looking around the classroom, I knew these kids were learning about the chemistry of cooking. We left with a handout of recipes inspired by Good Eats TV show with Alton Brown.
Later that afternoon, we reprised our visit, this time descending into the bottom floor of the museum for a peek at my sons' computer programming class. The classroom was wide and filled with monitors, one child at each one. There were no posters or handouts. There was very little overview of the class and no child or group offered any explanation to us parents. They were simply hard at work finishing their Scratch projects. We lurked behind our beginning programmers, peeking in on the games they'd created in Scratch and asking questions.
Unlike Kitchen Chemistry, my sons were focused on that screen. They wanted to finish up the games they'd created before the day was over. They'd spoken excitedly of Paul all week, the class lead instructor. Paul this and Paul that, like the God of all things Scratch. So while there wasn't much by way of explanation, it was clear my boys highly enjoyed this class. They told me it was the best class they'd ever taken and each day, could not wait to go home and log onto Scratch.
2013 has been the "summer of code" for my boys. They and I wish The Tech Museum would offer programming classes for youth throughout the year! Summer camp at the Tech was a rewarding and fulfilling experience for my boys. Although I'm sure they will take computer programming at this camp next year, there are so many other exciting science and technology classes at The Tech that my boys can't wait to take.
I wonder how Tech Museum alumni campers will innovate as they grow up?
Disclosure: Each of my children will receive a complementary week of The Tech summer camp in exchange for my honest reviews on this blog. The opinions in this post are my own.