Aurora, TinkRWorks launch new coding camps for youth

Aurora youth will have an opportunity to delve into a virtual maker space this summer as they explore the interconnections of science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The City of Aurora and TinkRworks, a K-8 STEAM education provider focused on transforming learners to innovators, are launching a series of five virtual Aurora STEAM Enrichment Camps for 50 students in first through sixth grade.

With enrollment of 10 students per class from the city's 2nd and 7th wards, the camps will teach students the arts of coding, robotics, electronics, app development and digital media right from the comfort of their own homes. The virtual camps are supported by Ward 7 Alderwoman Scheketa Hart-Burns and Ward 2 Alderwoman Juany Garza. Enrollment is full for the first two sessions, but stay tuned for future opportunities.

“These experiences are important for our youth to unlock their creativity and keep their passion for learning alive and well during the summer break and beyond,” said Ward 7 Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns. “By exposing our children to coding and the STEAM fields early, we can inspire them and empower them to see those fields as viable and attainable career options.”

For this year's inaugural summer initiative, camps are offered in two sessions beginning the week of June 22 and running through mid-July.

“Our children will build upon their problem-solving and critical thinking skills by participating in each camp,” said Ward 2 Alderman Juany Garza. “We want to expand their world beyond recreational summer camps and give them something educational to do that can help their future goals and careers.”

The first interactive “Art Alive” camp teaches students to code their own electric art. Students will customize a wooden facade and attach electronics to make it light up, play different sounds and move.

“Diving deep into the science of light and sound, students will learn how light colors mix and how sound travels,” said Ritu Jain, executive director of TinkRworks. “They will control the functionality by programming them using a special TinkRworks coding app.”

The second session, which runs from June 29 to July 10, will include the “Art Alive” camp and an intriguing “Tinkrbot” camp for students in fourth through sixth grades. Students in this camp will learn about motors, sensors, LED's and Adrunio minicomputers by developing a fully-functional customized robot.

The virtual camps will provide project kits to each student and will be taught by lived certified instructors via the Zoom platform using technology equipment supported by the city's IT Department.

“As Aurora continues to learn to become the smartest city in Aurora, it is vital to prepare our youth for a world based in the STEAM fields,” said Aurora Chief Information Officer Michael Pegues who brought the TinkRworks partnerships to Aurora. “We wanted to find a way to bridge the gap in technology and the lag summer can bring to educational advancement, through an interactive and innovative approach to community-based learning. I personally understand the impact of not being exposed to types these opportunities as a child, which motivates me to help change the narrative for future generations.”

Last year, the city's IT Department launched the Smart City Youth Alliance, hosted the first-ever Smart City Youth Summit in partnership with the Illinois Math and Science Academy and donated dozens of tablets, computers and laptops to youth programs serving low-income students in Aurora.

The Aurora STEAM Enrichment Camps partnership between the City of Aurora and TinkRWorks includes support from Alderwoman Hart-Burns, Alderwoman Garza, the IT Department and coordinating partners the Aurora Housing Authority and A.R.M. Mentoring.

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