On the 24th – 28th August 2015, Tech Republic Africa held our first Innovation Camp at United States International University – Africa, bringing together 75 of Nairobi’s brightest young minds representing over 36 schools, with expert instructors from Intel and Google.
There’s no question that computers are changing the world around us. To help prepare our children for a successful future, no matter what career they pursue, they need to learn basic computer programming. The camp’s jam-packed agenda offered upper primary and secondary pupils aged 12 – 18, a great opportunity to build and strengthen their computer science skills.
What we did
The five day program consisted of hands-on computer science exercises, tech talks, break out sessions, a panel on technology careers, and hardware demos. The content covered a variety of computer science topics including Game Design, Software & Hardware Programming, Audio/Video, Machine Learning, User Interface and Social Media. Participants watched videos, responded to questions, earned badges, completed quizzes, and attempted challenging assignments as they stepped toward mastering critical technology skills and professional-level software.
We also held one-on-one sessions where the camp participants and TRA staff could meet privately and discuss topics of personal interest, such as how to develop a compelling application, how to enter relevant computer science competitions and how to apply for further computer science learning support.
What we achieved
Educate: Covered over 30 hours of computer science content through live talks, video lectures, practical exercises and demos.
Empower: 40% of participants were female, which was significant in shifting gender-based perceptions of STEM based careers being “just for boys.
Inspire: Through the technology careers panel and tech careers deep dive sessions, all participants were motivated to explore STEM related professions they had not previously considered.
Evangelize: Raised awareness on the importance of growing computer science skills amongst young people, through rigorous media coverage worth Kes 1.5M across more than 15 major media outlets.
What we learned
Strong partnerships are vital to quality delivery: Support and participation of the major stakeholders facilitated a controlled development of the program. The right choice of partners ensured that the required resources and skill sets to deliver the camp’s objectives were available. Additionally, the motivation of the parties involved in the camp fostered better collaboration and hence a greater awareness of each other’s responsibilities.
Broad based curriculum was key to well-rounded camp experience: The camp approach was centred on creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication. We were able to teach camp participants to create and grow their own apps and online presence, alongside soft skills and career development, whilst maintaining a strong academic and practical focus.
Self-paced learning enabled positive learning outcomes: While the program utilized both live and self-paced learning, when introducing a number of technical components the self-paced method worked best as participants studied in a pressure free environment. Participants could control how much time they spent on a particular module within the course, rather than having to conform to a pace set by the instructor.
What we plan to do
The inaugural Innovation Camp class shall continue to nurture their computer science skills through:
Taking part in the Innovation Camp Challenge, an exclusive application development competition, with submissions due by mid-October 2015.
Participation in Computer Science or STEM clubs, facilitated by Tech Republic Africa, once a week for the entire academic term, at selected schools in Nairobi.
Attending the next Innovation Camp, to be held in December 2015. The upcoming program shall deepen their existing skills and enable learning of new computer science concepts.
The Innovation Camp would not have been the success that it was without the contributions of:
USIU – Africa
Career Panel: Frederick (Intel), Kate (Soko), Martin (Bean), Angela (AkiraChix)
Tech Republic Africa Camp Counselors
Parents of Camp Participants
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