Aspiring inventors between 13 and 18 years old are working together through Google+ for a free, online summer camp for kids compelled by building, tinkering and exploring — the essence of project-based learning.
Anyone familiar with Maker Faire will immediately understand how Maker Camp appeals to kids by targeting smaller-scale projects. Imagine a science fair combined with a field trip and a laboratory — then add your social network. In addition to those tuning in from their own computers, nearly 350 maker camps have been established worldwide, where kids work together in person instead of online.
This year's Maker Camp had 2.2 million followers on Google+ a few hours before it launched Monday afternoon.
The camp's third annual session kicked off with a guest appearance from NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who told campers about the Mars Cycler program. Aldrin is working on designs for a Mars exploration craft. He believes humanity should be preparing for manned exploration missions to the red planet by 2030.
Over the next six weeks, campers will take a variety of virtual field trips through Google+ hangouts, where experts will guide them through 30 do-it-yourself projects, ranging from soda bottle rocket LED fireworks to glowing bikes. In the days before the event kicked off, campers got a taste of what was ahead by learning to build a noncontact voltage detector.
The camp is a joint venture between Make and Google, which have teamed up over the past three years to help youngsters learn through innovation.
In the coming weeks, campers will explore six themes:
Week 1: Makers in Motion — Projects include building a stroboscope and a gyrocar.
Week 2: Art and Design — Campers will learn to create something beautiful and functional.
Week 3: Fun and Games — Homemade kites, fort-building and more await in a series of outdoor projects.
Week 4: Science and Technology — Campers will tap into their imaginations to solve the impossible.
Week 5: DIY Music — Ever wonder how to build a guitar or an amplifier?
Week 6: Make: Believe— Campers will interview some of the world’s greatest makers.
The summerlong event is free and open to anyone who meets the age requirements. Younger kids can take part as well, as long as they have parental supervision, according to the website.