Starting a tech summer camp
During the summer, I teach kids. I used to teach computer programming at the Tech Museum Summer Camps, and do some private tutoring on the side. Usually, when I tell fellow computer science students that I would rather teach kids than find a summer internship at a software company, their response is equitable to an accusation of blasphemy. We tend to forget that the quality of our education is determined by the teachers that contributed to it. Working as a summer camp instructor gave me an ideal position to contribute to the education of younger, more creative minds.
Although I cherished every moment that I got to spend at the front of a large classroom, I became frustrated by large class sizes and outdated computers. It is completely against the spirit of a teacher to leave a student behind, so my lessons would occasionally grind to a halt as I raced around the room fixing ten different problems. Sometimes, the problem would simply be that the computer was too slow to handle the software. There were some students who learned nothing from me, and there were some students who absorbed knowledge like a sponge.
After coming to terms with the inherent limitations of large classrooms and cheap equipment, I embarked on a mission to create my own education program. I started the project with a commitment to small class sizes, experienced instructors, and a unified curriculum, and looked for ways to build a viable business around it. My efforts culminated into TechLab Education, an emerging summer program and after-school program offering classes targeted at elementary, middle, and high school students. Our 21 different classes are centered on computer programming, circuit design, robotics, and web development. Everything you would want to know about the program, its classes, and its philosophy can be found on the website. I also put together this promotional video:
I chose the name “techlab” because it is a simple yet descriptive portmanteau of “technology” and “laboratory”.
Technology is the theme to our entire program – all of our classes are facets of the massive technology industry, from hardware to software. Laboratory conveys the idea of a hands-on environment, which is really what we are all about. We aren’t lecturers trying to fill a student’s head with vocabulary and theoretical knowledge – we are technology enthusiasts looking to educate students in applicable knowledge through hands-on learning.
Right now, I am finalizing a lease for a location in Saratoga, California. If all goes well, I’ll be posting pictures of our new facility as soon as everything is set up. If you’re a reader of my blog who lives nearby, consider supporting this program by
- spreading the word. I’m no Ronald McDonald, which means I can’t dish out much on advertising. Forums, the blogosphere, and good ol’ word-of-mouth is the most powerful advertising medium out there – all it takes is a link to techlabeducation.com!
- enrolling your son/daughter. I assume that if you’re a reader of my blog, you know by now that this is what I love to do. I have literally poured my heart and soul into everything, from the website to the curriculum for 21 different classes being offered this summer. This is an opportunity to invest in your child – teach them to build sand castles, and they will be inspired to build bridges.
- applying to join the team. I am currently looking for experienced technology educators and high school students who are interested in paid internships for the summer. The website has a convenient application form.