Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Online Summer Camps for Kids - STEM, Coding & Tech 2017

Every year we bring out a list of Online / Virtual STEM, Coding and Tech Summer Camps to keep kids busy in the summer. There are a growing number of local tech camps available to attend, but not everyone has access to one in their local area. Taking part in an online camp means you can do it from home and dip in and out in-between holidays and other activities.

New entries in our list include JAM by DIY.org and DIY Science Camp, by Start with a Book. There are new themes and courses for all the others for 2017, so do scroll down and check them out!

Some camps are completely free such as DIY.org, Start with a Book and Camp Wonderopolis, others carry a charge, like Brain Chase and JAM, others offer some free content such as Tech Rocket and Connected Camps. We've included prices, age ranges and start dates for the Summer Camps of 2017.

Tech Rocket

Website Tech Rocket
Age 10 - 18
Cost $19 pm paid annually / $29 pm
STEM Focus Technology

Tech Rocket was launched by iD Tech as an online learning platform for kids and teens. If you are looking for a physical summer camp, iD Tech runs summer camps aimed at ages 7 - 17, in the USA and Internationally. They also run physical Tech Mini Camps for kids aged 6 - 9.

Tech Rocket helps kids and teens learn to code, learn game design and graphic design in an engaging and fun way. I actually did their first course on Python and thoroughly enjoyed it. The first 6 courses are free and there is also 6 Hour of Code courses available for free. A monthly subscription will set you back $29 pm, but you can track your progress and earn badges and certificates.

Tech Rocket categorises their courses into (there are free courses available in each section):

  1. Code courses include Python, Java, C++,  iOS, Javascript and Hour of Code Courses. 
  2. Graphic design covers 3D Printing and Photoshop. 
  3. Game design courses include Minecraft, Minecraft Redstone, Unity, GameSalad and Stencyl.

UPDATE 2017: New Releases - Modding with JAVA - Custom Weapons in Minecraft; Game Physics with Stencyl; Python and the Curse of the Unusual High Wave

Brain Chase

Website Brain Chase
Age 6-16
Cost Scout $69 Explorer $149 Adventurer $229
STEM Focus Science, Math, Engineering, Technology, Art
START DATE The summer 2017 Brain Chase Online Learning Challenge officially launches on Monday, June 19, 2017 and continues for 6 weeks. The challenge this year is THE GLOBE OF MAGELLAN.

Trailer from previous years:

Brain Chase is an online summer learning challenge that is disguised as a massive global treasure hunt! Designed to keep kids sharp during summer break, children in grades 2-8 complete roughly an hour a day of fun online learning activities, and each completed weekly challenge unlocks a unique, animated webisode containing hidden clues to the location of a real buried treasure somewhere on Earth.

The first participant to pinpoint the treasure within a two-mile radius will embark on an all-expenses-paid trip with a parent to dig up the prize – a mechanical treasure piece holding the key to a $10,000 scholarship! Previous winners were whisked away to Spain and Japan to unearth their treasures.

Brain Chase is not free, but an immersive and extensive learning platform to keep your kids engaged and working towards the goal of finding the treasure. It is a Challenge and a Competition (although some regions may not be eligible for the prize, check when you register). Whichever package you select, you'll get access to award-winning online learning platform and help from real teachers.

Can't think of anything more exciting than finding a real treasure somewhere in the world!

Brain Chase now has Library Challenges, where they hide a key in a physical library somewhere in the USA. You need to solve a riddle posted on their Facebook Page to find the key and stand a chance to win a prize. The Library Challenge is free to join and doesn't require registration.

Connected Camps

Website Connected Camps
Age 8-15
Cost $69 and up; most courses are $99
STEM Focus Technology - Minecraft, Scratch (NEW for 2017)
START DATE Summer Camps start 26 June.

Minecraft fans alert! Connected Camps run online summer camps for kids (minimum age 8 years) who want to play and learn Minecraft with others on a kid safe server. So how does this work? Basically, you purchase a course (Architecture, Coding, Engineering with Redstone, Game design, Girls Camp, Survival), select a week and then your child joins the online Minecraft server for 2 hours every day at a specified time. Note the timezone is in Pacific Time, so could be odd hours for UK participants. It also doesn't include a Minecraft account, which you'll need to purchase separately at minecraft.net.

There are benefits to joining an organised online community in Minecraft. Your child will definitely learn faster and have more fun playing with others online. As Connected Camps comply with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act player younger than 13 will need parental permission to join servers. At least with Connected Camps, you know your child is playing with others of a similar age on a kid friendly server. This is not always the case with Minecraft.

NEW FOR 2017:
Creative Coding in Scratch - The 5-day camp includes 10 hours of online instruction and activities using the Scratch coding interface and Zoom video chat, led by expert counsellors. Camp sessions run for 2 hours each day. As a camper, your child can also connect with a tech-passionate community of kids on our moderated, year-round Kid Club Minecraft server, which comes free with camp registration. For ages 8-9 and 10-13.

**SPECIAL OFFER: Ends 31 May 2017 Buy 3 camps and get a free glowstone kit

Kid Club in Minecraft

The Free Kid Club by Connected Camp, is a place people can join whenever they want to try out the Connected Camp servers at no cost. The servers are aimed at kids aged 8 -15 and they are moderated. The servers are open daily from 12pm – 6pm PT. A schedule of events can be found here.

Khan Academy

Website Khan Academy
Age All ages - but probably for bigger kids and teens
Cost Free
STEM Focus Math, Science, Computer Science

Khan Academy is a non-profit that provides free online materials and resources to support personalised education for learners of all ages. Most of the content is available in video or text format. Some of the content is a bit dry, but it could be just right for your child. You can sign up for free as a parent and create child accounts for each child so they can track their own progress and badges. Khan Academy is a great resource for teachers and homeschoolers. You choose a subject you're interested in (there are tons to choose from) and move on to something else next time.

They have a section for Computer Science, with some projects to try using HTML, CSS, Javascript and SQL.

There is also a free Khan Academy App available for iOS and Andriod which is user-friendly and easy to navigate to find the things you would like to learn about.

Maker Camp

Website Maker Camp #makercamp
Age 12-18 (younger with adult support)
Cost free online (fees may apply for physical camps)
STEM Focus Engineering, Technology, Design

Projects from Maker Camp 2015

Maker Camp is an online summer camp for maker kids and families brought to you from the organisation behind Maker Faire and Make: magazine. You can also join in physical Maker Camps - locate your nearest Maker Camp on this map. The physical maker camps take place in libraries, scout huts, community centres, makerspaces and more. You can even sign up as an affiliate to host a camp in your community.

Sign up to the Google+ community and the Maker Camp mailing list for the online camp. The Maker Camp Youtube channel provides lots of ideas for the online camp.

There are physical Maker Camps but kids can participate online from home too. It's a great tool to dip in and out of.

Projects for the Virtual Maker Camp include mechanical constructions, electronic instruments (including a bonus project with littleBits), gardening and games (both physical and electronic).


Website DIY.org
Age 8 -14 up to 17 welcome, but no adults; younger kids can join with adult supervision
Cost  Free. Patch badges available in the Market
STEM Focus All

DIY.org is a fantastic site where children from around age 7 can earn virtual badges by completing challenges. Children can earn badges all year round and completing challenges in a wide range of skills including Art, Building, Design, Science, Exploring, Engineering and much more. DIY.org provides a great resource and ideas to learn new skills.

Earning the virtual badges is free but does require an account which must be authorised by a parent. There are some fantastic STEM related badges available. There are whole categories dedicated to Building, Engineering, Hacking and Science and there are also tech-related badges in other categories such as Art, Design and Exploring. DIY.org is a bit like an Instructables for kids, where they can share their own projects with the community online.

There's also an iOS app available now.

DIY.org created JAM, subscription based and moderated online courses for kids. You need to register for an account using a credit card and will receive a 14-day free trial. Thereafter it will cost $25/mo and you can can cancel any time or there's an annual fee of $99. Membership is per child and not per family.

JAM courses available include:
  • Build anything with LEGO
  • Invent your own Machines
  • Drawing Bootcamp
  • Animate your Drawings
  • Host a Minecraft Video Show
  • Cook for Yourself
  • Become a Music Star

Camp Wonderopolis

Website Camp Wonderopolis
Age 8-14
Cost Free - Camp kit (not required) $20
STEM Focus Engineering and Building - Build Your Own Wonderocity (theme for 2017)
START DATE Camp starts June 12, register here.

Camp Wonderopolis is the Summer Camp section of Wonderopolis, a fun website where kids can learn about the hows and whys of the world. This year's focus is Engineering, Building, and Cityscapes. Camp Wonderopolis is created by National Center for Families Learning.

If you sign your child up for Camp Wonderopolis (free) then they can access multimedia STEM lessons and earn Wonder Cards which appear on their Dashboard and are also available to print out. The lessons are a mixture of videos, images, and text with a read aloud option. You can also access Camp Kits.

There are also maker activities to carry out offline and quizzes to complete to earn the cards.

We really like Camp Wonderopolis. You should be aware that it links to lots of third party content so you child can easily end up at other websites. Just make sure you keep an eye on what they are doing.

Start with a Book

Website Start with a Book DIY Science Camp
Age All ages with parental support
Cost Free
STEM Focus Science, Technology, Robotics, Space

Start with a Book is a summer reading project by Reading Rockets. This summer they have a Summer DIY Science Camp, where you can choose a topic and explore hands-on activities, websites, books and apps related to that topic. Be an Inventor! is a cool techie topic to develop problem-solving and creative thinking skills. Activities include making a robot and vibrating bug as well as recommending great books about inventors and robotics & engineering.

More Virtual Summer Camps?

Do you offer an online Summer Camp for kids with a focus on STEM, Coding or Tech and want to be added to our list? Please contact us.

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