Tech Venture Kids computer camps

Melanie Kusmik, Founder & CEO

I love watching kids’ eyes light up when they are in the moment of bringing their imagination into words, pictures or storytelling. My kids, like all kids, are enamored with video games, animated movies and other digital media. I often found myself musing how to direct their enthusiasm from digital play into digital design and creation. With a background in software development, I started researching how to teach programming at a young age. I discovered MIT Media Lab’s Scratch, and introduced it to my 8 year old son – he loved it! So I offered to teach it to his 3rd grade class. This led to teaching it to more classes and an after school club. Techventure Kids was born the summer of 2014.

Now TechVenture Kids is on a path of introducing creative digital thinking, programming and tinkering to young boys and girls of all backgrounds, with the hope that they will be better prepared in actively creating our digital world of tomorrow. We teach after school code clubs at over 30 schools in the Seattle Eastside and offer more than 30 camps in the summer. We hope you find one that will inspire your children to create and think digitally.

STEM and coding camps and clubs

Karen Russell, Chief Operations Officer

Working with Melanie and TechVenture Kids is so much fun!  Elementary school kids are all so eager  for knowledge and  excited about using technology. This natural curiosity about technology makes it easy to engage the kids in learning.  Whether they become artists or engineers, nurses or electricians or lawyers, understanding how to code or program is a basic skill for this generation.

What I enjoy most is the energy and enthusiasm of the club atmosphere we create in our classes. Encouraging the kids to collaborate and present projects in a spirited, yet controlled, environment requires us to encourage developing social as well as technical skills.

TechVenture Kids gives me the opportunity to keep learning new things, while we are bringing much needed enrichment experiences to kids all over the Eastside.

TechVenture Clubs and Camps

In our Code Clubs and Camps, we build on kids’ natural curiosity and affinity for technology and game play, we constructively direct their motivation by offering short, flexible lessons and instructor-led demonstrations and class participation; followed by longer blocks of practice time (hands-on coding) on projects created by TVK for specific age and experience levels. Our unique approach to learning and using technology emphasizes the importance of good story-telling, logical narratives, and written communications skills. We teach these skills through the medium of designing and creating computer games and animations.
Work time within the club allows for individual work on the project or working in collaboration with others in the room. Furthering the club experience, we teach appropriate ways to give and receive feedback. We also encourage club members to mentor and share with others.

Skills Learned and Practiced
1. Programming / programming concepts
2. Linear thinking and problem solving
3. Applied math skills
4. Social skills through collaboration and feedback, both giving and receiving
5. Oral and Written Communications skills through project storyboard and presentations

How We Teach

Constructive Direction: We develop semi-structured projects, with lots of choice and challenges, giving children a chance to enjoy self-directed learning. Imagination and creativity are fully encouraged and when applied within the project guidelines, the results are motivated learning.

Lessons and Class Participation: Short, flexible lessons (1 or 2 per class) teach the basics of programming within the students attention span and are designed to appeal to a variety of learning styles . Lessons are typically presented on an overhead projector, with lots of classroom involvement and in-put. We create programs dynamically as a group, usually with amazing results. Other lessons require play-acting, game play or use of objects to manipulate.

Instructor Demonstrations: a finished project may be demonstrated to the class before they begin coding their own projects, particularly in the early classes. However, often, the demo is delayed until after students spend a little time to start programming their own projects to encourage maximum creativity.

Hands-on Practice: We typically allow 10, 20 or 30 minute practice blocks depending on the group’s level of coding knowledge and complexity of the projects. Practice within the “club” allows for individual work on the project or working in collaboration with others in the room. Practice can include:
a) Individual work time,
b) Collaborative work time in pairs or small groups that form naturally
c) Work with a mentor : mentors are typically 5th graders working with 2nd graders, but can be any advanced coder, regardless of age, working with a Level 1 coder.

Instructor to Student Ratio: Our Instructor to Student Ratio is a maximum of 1:9. This allows us to guide students at varying levels and confer with one another if a change in teaching direction is required.

Club Atmosphere: Encouraging a “club” atmosphere means encouraging collaboration and learning from each other. Club rules require asking 2 fellow club members for help before asking the instructor. When an instructor does come to assist the student, the first question invariably asked is, “How have you tried to solve this problem?”