Summer school is a drag, so enroll your kids in Microsoft’s Summer Camps

microsoft store stem summer camps 2018
Microsoft

If you want your kids to be more productive this summer, rather than wasting it on mindless TV or video games, drop them off at your local Microsoft Store. Not only would you get a few hours of “me time,” but your kids will pick up some new computing skills that they can apply to their careers in the future. The five free Microsoft Store YouthSpark Summer Camps, taking place from late May until August inside all Microsoft Store location in the United States, will focus on coding, robotics, 3D and mixed-reality moviemaking, and philanthropy. Parents can sign their kids up via the Microsoft Store website.

Designed for kids ages eight and older, the STEM-based (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses last from one to four sessions, depending on the activity, and each session takes two hours. Each course is led by Microsoft Store employees, with easy-to-understand curriculum developed by Microsoft product engineers, and using Microsoft hardware like Surface tablet computers. The availability and class sizes will be determined by the size of the store.

One course destined to be a hit is Minecraft Coding. Using Microsoft MakeCode, the students learn about game design and how it is coded, and, in turn, then use their newfound knowledge to create their own programming. The course consists of four two-hour sessions, and while the training can get pretty deep by the end of the course, Microsoft said kids do not need to have any prior coding knowledge.

microsoft store stem summer camps 2018 minecraft

But if you want to start your kids on the basics, sign them up for Beginners Fun with Computing and Coding, a partnership with Code.org. This introductory, two-hour one-day course is actually for children between the ages of six and eight, and it guides them to think like a computer when it comes to coding.

A slightly more advanced coding class is Code a Talking Robot with Ohbot. For this course, Microsoft partnered with Ohbot, a company that makes educational robots, to teach kids how to code for a robot with seven motorized expressions that moves and talks, using a graphical programming language that’s based on MIT Scratch. In addition, the lesson teaches how to solve problems in software. The course is made is up two two-hour sessions.

microsoft store stem summer camps 2018 ohbot

If your child is more of a creative type, Make Your Own Movie with 3D and Mixed Reality teaches how to create a movie, from beginning to end. The course, which takes place over four two-hour sessions, also introduces students to 3D drawing and how to integrate digital elements within footage, and Microsoft’s Mixed Reality technology.

The fifth option teaches kids how to use technology to raise awareness for causes that interest them. Called Create a Difference in Your World, students learn about fundraising, volunteering, holding community events, and other skills related to humanitarian work, in the four two-hour sessions. The focus here is more on life skills than technical abilities, but kids learn how to use technology to further their goals.

At the end of each camp, the students present to their friends and family what they have learned and created. It is hoped that each student would continue to grow his or her skills. Ohbot, for example, offers a free app that students can use at home.

Microsoft gave us a tour of the five camps, which a few are already being held at various Microsoft Store locations. It’s evident that there are serious skills to be learned, but it all revolves around fun. None of the courses are particularly difficult to grasp, but they can become very complex, particularly with the robot coding we saw. While there is the expected but unspoken push of Microsoft products, nearly all the lessons are universal and can be applied to non-Microsoft gear.

Product Review

It's not the sharpest tool, but the Surface Go does it all for $400

Microsoft has launched the $400 Surface Go to take on both the iPad and Chromebooks, all without compromising its core focus on productivity. Does it work as both a tablet and a PC?
Computing

Nvidia’s Jetson AGX Xavier module is designed to give robots better brains

Nvidia's pricey Jetson AGX Xavier might help drive the next generation of smart robots. Nvidia hopes that developers will use its new Xavier module to power AI-driven machines like delivery drones and robots used in manufacturing.
Computing

Microsoft’s latest patent paves the way for Andromeda dual-screen mobile device

The latest patent discovery from Microsoft showcases a new hinge design for quickly opening a dual-screen mobile device with a single hand. Could this be additional proof surrounding the rumors of the company's Project Andromeda device?
Computing

Microsoft could split up search and Cortana in the next Windows 10 release

In the latest Insider preview build, Microsoft is exploring ways to split up Cortana and search on Windows 10. If Microsoft moves ahead with this change, we could see separate search and Cortana options in the Spring 2019 Update.
Computing

Does Qualcomm's latest laptop processor hold up against Intel's Core i5?

Qualcomm has been nipping at Intel's mobile CPU heels for years and now it might finally have overtaken it. To find out whether it's new SoC can hold its own in mid-range computing, we pitted the Snapdragon 8cx vs. Core i5.
Photography

Not just for Lightroom anymore, Loupedeck+ now works with Photoshop

Loupedeck+ can now help photographers edit in Photoshop too, thanks to physical controls for swapping tools, running actions, and more. The photo-editing console expanded to include Photoshop in the list of compatible editing programs.
Computing

Turn your Raspberry Pi into a Steam streaming hub with Valve’s Steam Link app

Valve's Steam Link app is now fully supported by Raspberry PI hardware, meaning that just about anyone with a few dollars to spare can build their own Steam streaming box in a matter of minutes.
Computing

Amazon takes $300 off Intel Core i7 Surface Pro 6 in latest sale

If you're looking for savings on the Surface Pro 6, Amazon is the place to shop. It currently is discounting the Intel Core i7 variant of Microsoft's latest 2-in-1 by $300, though no Type Cover is included.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Computing

Our favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.
Computing

Don't keep typing the same thing -- learn to copy and paste with these shortcuts!

Looking for useful Windows keyboard shortcuts? The most common are the cut, copy, paste and undo shortcuts compatible with all kinds of tasks. They can save you an awful lot of time if you learn how to use them.
Computing

Latest Facebook bug exposed up to 6.8 million users’ private photos

An API bug recently left an impact on Facebook users. Though the issue has since been fixed, some of the apps on the platform had a wrongful access to consumers photos for 12 days between September 13 and September 25. 
Computing

You can now get a Surface Laptop 2 for $800 at the Microsoft Store

Along with deals on other variants, starting configurations of Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 are now going for $800 online at its retail store, cutting $200 from its usual $1,000 starting price. 
Computing

Need a monitor for professional photo-editing? These are the very best

Looking for the best monitor for photo editing? You'll need to factor in brightness, color accuracy, color gamut support and more. Fortunately, we've rounded up the best ones for you, to help you make an educated purchase.