Luma Lab recently concluded a second season of technology-immersive summer camps in DC. We worked with over 50 students ages 10-14 at two Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater of Washington clubhouses (in Wards 5 and 7) and Georgetown Day School. These summer camps ranged from 2-8 weeks long. Our teaching staff consisted of computer science upperclassmen from local and regional universities and one teacher from Prince George’s County Public Schools.
At each camp, students were presented the same challenge: identify a problem you see in your community and solve the problem using technology (specifically through the use of a mobile application). Using this challenge, students worked in teams to brainstorm and execute their concept. At the end of every program, teams present their prototype in from of an audience and a panel of judges (comprised of technology professionals) and compete for prizes.
With this prompt, students were exposed to and applied industry best practices to develop solutions to community problems. The program is divided into three units; ideation & design, prototyping & programming, pitching & presentation. More than 80% of our students had never programmed before; none of our students had participated in a pitch event.
Some of our campers’ prototypes included:
An app for tourists – helping individuals navigate around heavy foot traffic areas of the city (“waze for tourism”)
A fashion app – allows sneaker enthusiasts to customize and design their own sneakers and purchase them from affiliate shoe companies
Winners of our first Summer Pitch Event at GDS and creators of the lifepath app
A lifepath app – a job simulation game that helps children validate whether or not they want to pursue a potential career by simulating the experience they would have in that specific field; in this game, the player would navigate through a typical job’s day to day activity and make decisions based on career-specific scenarios. winner at one of our three camps
One of our summer instructors, Noah Heath reflected on his favorite moments in the classroom:
“…watching and helping the kids come up with their FluidUI prototypes. You can teach kids about technical terms and introduce them to the technology sector, but when it comes to applying those concepts and producing a product, the kids’ creativity really begins to shine and they become excited about what they are creating. I can relate to their feelings. When you work hard and complete something, you become attached to it. Each of those kids were attached to their projects and it was amazing to see!”
Throughout the summer, students were also able to meet entrepreneurs and tech giants via Google Hangout and in-person visits. Guest speakers included COO of Whose Your Landlord, Felix Addison, CEO of On Second Thought, Maci Peterson and Founder of Molecular Jig Games, Melanie Stegman.
Luma Lab’s mission is to create a world where technology is approachable and people in every community can take a seat at the digital table as creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs.
The summer camps and after-school programs allow us to execute our mission. We do not focus solely on teaching them how to write code, rather we create context for learning programming languages by walking students’ through a digital product’s full life cycle from idea to prototype to presentation. This process allows students to see a variety of roles and recognize that you do not have to be a developer in order to be successful and add value in the innovation economy.
Clearly Innovative recently was one of 20 small businesses selected to receive a $100K Mission Main Street Grant. We will be using the award to scale and grow our Luma Lab program. Currently, we are midway through one after school program and our CEO Aaron K. Saunders’ second college course on mobile development and entrepreneurship. Next semester will include a series of weekend clinics, after school programming at three new schools and a new adult workshop class.
See more images and special moments from this summer by searching the hashtag #LumaLabSummer on Twitter and stay up to date on everything we’re doing by following us on Twitter and liking our Luma Lab Facebook page!