Twenty-first century technology is abundant across the United States – how is it impacting the future job landscape? According to a recent U.S. News STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Leadership Summit, 1.2 million STEM jobs will go unfilled by 2018. These attractive positions command higher salaries and offer lower unemployment rates than most other careers.
But how can educators successfully teach these subjects in schools so students are better equipped to attain such lucrative occupations? An unexpected answer – video games.
Popular titles like Minecraft and Portal™ 2 engage students with entertaining activities, but also provide latent learning lessons. Teachers who are integrating them into the classroom are preparing students with skills future STEM jobs require. The problem? Not all schools have or are able to incorporate technology into their curriculum. Why? Budget cuts, lack of teacher training, and pressure to “teach to the test” are all factors limiting the creative implementation of STEM subjects in the classroom.
The good news? There are additional STEM learning outlets.
iD Tech Camps, a summer program where ages 7-18 are immersed in hands-on learning to produce relevant tech projects, is currently meeting the need for STEM skill-building. During the summer programs held nationally at top universities,students create video games, develop iPhone® and Android™ apps, build robots, make movies with Adobe® After Effects®, or complete other tech-based projects.
iD Tech Camps just launched its 2013 season, unveiling three new courses based on the Minecraft platform, as well as classes in Scratch, Portal™ 2, Autodesk® Maya®, TrackMania®, and ShootMania®: Storm. Courses are delivered in a fun environment where students learn STEM skills that might be absent from a typical classroom setting.
For instance, Minecraft’s “sandbox” allows players to use programming features to build worlds one block at a time, using coding to enhance their creations. Additionally, solving puzzles in Portal™ 2 and using momentum to teleport is fun and engaging, but it also teaches math and physics.
iD Tech Camps has long recognized the shift towards STEM and its importance in creating stable, rewarding jobs.
“The way students learn is changing,” says iD Tech Camps CEO Pete Ingram-Cauchi . “We have to offer them the opportunity to experience subjects applicable to future careers, while providing tools to problem-solve, create, work in teams, and use critical thinking skills.”
iD Tech Camps is proving technology can be harnessed in a savvy way. Over 26,000 students are projected to attend in 2013, and 150,000 have participated over the past decade. Many former iD students have continued to leverage their knowledge – pursuing degrees in computer science, visual arts, engineering, and animation.
“iD helped me identify what it was I enjoyed. More importantly, iD helped me realize that many people have lucrative careers in the video game industry,” said Mark Grimm , a former iD camper who then graduated from MIT and ultimately landed a job as Producer of Engineering for Harmonix Game Studio.
Providing experience with popular technology products while teaching skills that lead to potentially lucrative, high-demand jobs, iD Tech Camps is doing its part to fill future STEM careers.
ABOUT iD TECH CAMPS AND iD TEEN ACADEMIES
iD Tech Camps and iD Teen Academies engage students ages 7-18 in STEM education with summer programs for kids and teens held at over 60 prestigious universities nationwide, including Stanford, Princeton, and others. Sessions are weeklong, day and overnight. Teens can build online portfolios and explore future career paths at iD Gaming Academy, iD Programming Academy, and iD Visual Arts Academy. Visit www.internalDrive.com or call 1-888-709-TECH (8324).
Silvia Gallagher is the Head of Content for AvatarGeneration. Her background is in online learning, virtual worlds, and educational games. In her spare time she likes riding bikes over mountains and playing around with new technology.