*Sponsored Post

As a parent I found it challenging to set a balance over many things in my children’s daily life. One huge challenge is their screen time. On one hand I’d like to unplug them from screens and digital life, and instead enjoy the physical life of their childhood. On the other hand, I feel the pressure to give them the necessary tools for their future life, and one is undoubtedly computer skill.

In the latter case, TechSpark Academy offers exactly that, and more. They go far beyond teaching word processors and spreadsheets. Through the themes that they run in their courses they teach children how to work with professional-grade “off-the-shelf” programs such as Digital Photography and Film or 3D printing, as well as with the basic of robotics and mobile app programming. Instead of playing games or using apps, their students create ones. Their newest offer is Cyber Awareness: Hacking and Defense, which in my opinion, has became more needed than ever before.

I had the opportunity to visit TechSpark class during the last day of their Easter camp. The camp took place at the College Champittet in Pully. That afternoon it was open for parents of the participants, so that the children could show their parents their work.

During my visit, I had a lengthy discussion with Loïs, the camp manager. At that time he was an EPFL student who had been working for TechSpark since its start in summer 2015. His enthusiasm was obvious. I could feel that the TechSpark team had built their themes and programs with great care.

The camps had a ratio of 1 instructor per 5 students. For that “Cyber Awareness” camp that was running when I visited, they had 7 students, thus 2 instructors. I was told that in the beginning of camps students often have different levels of skills, thus in this class it was quickly resolved by splitting the class into 2 groups according to skill level.

The official language of the camps is English, but when necessary the instructors can help in French. The classes are 9am-5pm and structured similar to school hours. They have theory in the beginning of the day, followed by practice. They have shorter breaks and a long lunch break. Students bring their own lunch, or as Loïs told me, they can bring some cash and pool order with the instructors who usually get their sandwiches from Sucré Salé in Pully. The breaks are unstructured — practically the children are free to do what they wish. In good weather they often play a bit of sport (football, volleyball) making use of Champittet facilities. Drinks and snacks are provided in the class, the students can help themselves anytime. College Champittet also provide laptops for the camps, which makes things a lot easier for all. At the end of the course each participant receives a diploma.

In the class that I visited there were 1 girl and 6 boys. Loïs told me that the girl:boy ratio was always changing, though they noticed that one theme in particular attracts many girls — Digital Photography and Film. For programming camps, there were usually more boys than girls (but we are working to change this, don’t we parents?)

For this summer, TechSpark offer camps for 9-18yo between 14-18 August 2017 at Champittet in Pully. The camps offer a series of courses to choose from: Python, Swift, Digital Photography, Scratch, Robotics, 3D Printing, Hacking and Defense (info)

If you are located closer to Geneva, the camps also run there at the Institut Florimont between 10-14 July 2017, offering a choice of 6 courses: Python, Swift, Digital Photography, Robotics, 3D Printing, Hacking and Defense (info)

Registrations already started, so if you have 9-18yo who can make a better use of their screen times, sign up now! I know that I will once my kids reached the minimum age!

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.