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Tech Camps are Filling in for Schools

Techmog is a liquid network of engineers, programmers, designers and entrepreneurs in and around London who report on the industry we work in, from an insider's view. We're always looking for Londoners with something interesting to say. Send an email to info@techmog.com if you would like to contribute to the website.

Peter Bailey

Freelance Wordpress Developer in London (peabay.xyz) @peabay
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It’s fair to say that schools are struggling to equip children with relevant technical skills. As programming is added to the school curriculum, 65 years after its invention, tech makes another leap which demands more training. 3D printing, for example, has very quickly become the first port of call when prototyping ideas. In the near future all production will likely be done this way. Pi-top has even gone one step further and skipped the production phase completely, letting anyone 3D print the laptop in their own home.

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For many years children of the USA have enjoyed tech summer camps. Here kids can learn anything from how to code, to 3D printing, 3D design, music production and electronic engineering. The UK has had little initiative, however tech camps are now popping up and bringing vital tech skills to our children.

Jill Hodges, founder of Fire Tech Camp, told us how appalled she was to discover how much more children knew about a technical subject than their teachers. American born, she moved to London and brought with her the concept of tech camps so popular in The States.

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Fire Tech Camp now runs right across the UK in nine locations, the latest making use of Fab Lab’s space in central London. The courses are designed to get kids up to speed and then guide them on their own projects. We met one student who had 3D modelled a door lock to be 3D printed. Another was 3D printing an extension to his gaming joystick which enabled it to fit smaller hands. One had 3D printed tracks for his modified toy train. I was also shown innovative textiles students had produced using laser cutters and soft electronics.

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All of these skills future-proof children, but skills in programming is what’s needed now. We were told by one startup that they won’t hire a marketer who doesn’t know SQL (a language used to access data in databases). Often a little bit of knowledge in HTML and CSS goes a long way. Having the ability to make a website from scratch can unlock a whole career and feed a very hungry industry. Fire Tech Lab covers a range, from Python to Java and JavaScript.

Our tour of their space in Bank showed a bustling work area with kids of all ages working away on their projects. Fab Lab gives students access to some quality 3D printers, laser cutters, computerised sewing machines. Things youngsters simply wouldn’t have access to ordinarily, and the emphasis was on having fun. A programming class teach students how to program the game they already play – Minecraft, for example.

If I had children they would be here. They’re a great way to give kids a head start and get their hands dirty making things. Head over to their website to find the closest courses to you.

Posted 09th Aug 2015
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