June 29, 2015 – The NSF Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) alliance is providing workshop and “seed” funds to expand computing summer camps at colleges, universities, and high schools across the United States. On December 13, 2014 ECEP co-PI Barbara Ericson hosted a workshop in Santa Clara, CA on how to start and run financially self-sustaining computing summer camps. Thirty-eight professionals from 35 different institutions and 9 states attended the workshop, either in-person or remotely. Participants learned how to start or expand a computing summer camp for 4th-12+ grade students, saw the equipment and tools that can be used in camps, and learned how to administer a camp--including advertising, running, and evaluating the program. Additionally, participants learned how to apply for "seed" funds to buy equipment and how those applications are evaluated.
As a result of ECEP’s How to Run a Summer Camp workshop, four institutions applied for summer camps seed grants in spring 2015. Applications were reviewed based on criteria covering financial sustainability, outreach to under-represented groups in computing, and the use of subsidized camp equipment in additional youth-serving programs. For summer 2015, the Expanding Computing Education Pathways alliance (ECEP) is pleased to award Encinal High School in Alameda California a seed grant (approximately $5,000) to support its 2015 Bikes & Bytes summer camp for girls and boys entering 3rd-5th grades. Bikes & Bytes is a tech camp that integrates bicycle physics and mechanics, Lego WeDo and Mindstorms, Scratch and LightBot, and 3D Printing.
Ericson's summer camp model is also featured in the March 2015 edition of the CSTA Voice, where she discusses the benefits of computing summer camps and offers tips for running successful camps. The Institute for Computing Education (ICE) at Georgia Tech has been offering non-residential computing summer camps since 2004, and these camps get statistically significant changes in students’ attitudes toward computing and knowledge of computing concepts. Evaluations from these camps also show that summer computing camps are effective gateways to computer science, inspiring girls and underrepresented minorities to participate in computing.