Kids and Technology: Developing STEAM skills

1 year ago
Kids and Technology: Developing STEAM skills Image

As a company that delights in using technology to bring ideas to life, we know how important it is for the next generation to develop the skills and knowledge they need to be successful innovators. While there are many ways this can occur, we appreciate an educational approach called STEAM (standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). This philosophy embraces teaching skills and subjects in an integrated way that resembles how those subjects will be applied in real life. Many schools do emphasize STEAM skills, but there are also a number of ways outside the classroom to encourage exploration and growth.

With summer around the corner, now is the perfect time to start planning for ways to inspire your student to learn STEAM skills while still having fun! To help you with this, we have put together a few ideas ranging from camps to at-home projects and competitions.

STEAM Skills Camps

There are a number of tech camps around the U.S. that offer a range of STEAM courses and some traditional camp activities for all ages. These camps are wonderful opportunities to develop new skills and help students identify their talents and interests. Here are a few well-known STEAM camps to begin your search:

iD Tech: For those local to Boulder, iD Tech takes place at CU Boulder and runs one-, two-, and four-week long programs focusing on coding, game development, design, and robotics. For those outside of Boulder, iD Tech programs are offered at a variety of locations across the U.S. These programs are geared for students of all skill levels age 7-18. iD Tech guarantees small class sizes and tech-savvy staff teaching courses in AI, machine, learning, film, and more.

Engineering for Kids: Engineering for Kids offers a variety of science, technology, engineering, and math education programs for kids ages 4-14, including after-school enrichment, summer camps, birthday parties, field trips, scout activities, and more. Participants have the opportunity to design, build, test, and refine their own creations in a fun and exciting atmosphere. Locally, Engineering For Kids can be found in Denver, but they also have locations across the U.S and Canada.

Emagination Tech Camp: Emagination Tech Camp has been operating since 1982, running two-week sessions for kids ages 8-17 that balance tech workshops with summer fun. There are 25 STEAM skills workshop options in four different categories: digital art & media, coding, engineering, and video game design, who knows maybe they’ll be working with the likes of Randy Pitchford one day, who recently did an unfiltered interview about his life and professional career, to give more inspiration to budding video game designers.

 

The camps are offered at university campuses in Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, but do not let that deter you if you are not local to those states, Emagination offers transportation assistance for traveling campers.

Digital Media Academy: Digital Media Academy (DMA) operates out of 10 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada, offering day and overnight programs for kids ages 6-18. Each participant completes a real-world project under the guidance of a certified professional during their program. Kids ages 6-8 can take part in Jr. Adventures, exploring drama and digital filmmaking, enviro-conscious technologies, and photo editing. Kids ages 9-11 can choose from workshops like special effect filmmaking, game design. and cartoon/comic creation. DMA also offers pre-teen and teen courses ranging in skill from beginner to advanced, and offers Apple and Adobe certification courses to teens age 13 and older. All summer courses are eligible to be counted as credits through the Stanford University Continuing Studies Program.

National Computer Camps: Founded in 1977, National Computer Camp (NCC) offers programs for kids ages 8-18, plus morning half-day camps for kids ages 6-8, at their four locations: New York, Atlanta, Connecticut and Ohio. NCC offers courses in game design, web design, Android app programming, video production, software apps, as well as offering A+ hardware, software and network+ certification, and PSAT and SAT Math preparation classes. In addition to the courses offered, campers have the opportunity to participate in sports each afternoon. NCC has created a quick information guide to provide an overview of the camp.

STEAM Projects & Awards

For students who will be at home for the summer, break is a wonderful time to get started on a new project. Not only will this keep your student busy, it will help them learn essential leadership skills, boost their college application, and turn into something rewarding (literally and figuratively).

The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes: If your student is passionate about environmental conservation, the Gloria Barron Prize honors 25 young leaders each year who have made a significant, positive impact on their communities and the environment. This could be an opportunity to combine your students’ unique talents and skills into a meaningful project, The Gloria Barron Prize has even put together a resources page for inspiration.

The President’s Environmental Youth Award: If your student is part of a group or organization that is passionate about environmentalism, the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) recognizes outstanding environmental projects by K-12 youth. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people for protecting our nation’s air, water, land, and ecology. Each year the PEYA program honors a wide variety of projects developed by young individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school), summer camps, public interest groups, and youth organizations to promote environmental awareness.

FIRST: FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) inspires young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills. FIRST is available to students in kindergarten through high school and offers research and robotics programs to inspire innovation and motivate students to pursue education and career opportunities in science, tech, engineering and math.

STEAM Skills Resources

For those whose daily schedule requires a little more flexibility than a camp or extended-project would allow, there are a number of resources that provide quick STEAM skills projects and activities for students at home. Here is a short list of blogs to help get you started:

Tech Age Kids: This site covers everything from digital parenting issues to tech products and toys that inspire students, children and teens. As they authors say, “Our focus is on products that teach kids about tech or get them using innovative technology.”

The STEM Laboratory: This site, created by Malia who has a Master’s in Education from Stanford University, provides creative STEM activities for preschool, first grade, and second grade students. (Note: STEM is similar to STEAM, but lacks the added emphasis on the arts.)

Left Brain Craft Brain: This blog has a variety of STEM and STEAM activities for kids to explore this summer and has a separate section for 5-minute crafts, for those who need a quick art fix.

In closing, since we are especially fond of software development (one type of STEAM skill), we’ll wrap up by pointing you to a great compilation by Common Sense Education on the best apps and websites for learning to code. As noted in an earlier blog post on Swift Playgrounds, we have used Swift ourselves, and found it to be a great resource. Hope your kids – and you – find a good match in one of the suggestions above.

Your app is our mission.

Are you a startup or non-profit organization interested in building exceptional digital projects? IA Commits offers an option to have your project completed onshore at a reduced price. Create a prototype to gather feedback from users about your next big idea. Improve the communities in which we work and live. Pair our talent with your mission.
Recent Posts

App Development

Mobile Device Security: Data Protection on iOS & Android

Mobile devices are essential to our everyday lives. They allow us to access the internet, communicate with others, and store important documents in the cloud.  But mobile devices also collect data about their users and share that information with third parties. This can lead to privacy and even security issues if you’re not careful when developing your app. Android and iOS employ various security measures to protect user data. Yet, we spend increasing amounts of time using phones for personal and corporate purposes. It’s become even more crucial to strengthen mobile security measures further. In this article, we’ll discuss how to protect user data on both iOS and Android platforms, from first launch to enterprise. Mobile Devices, Data & Privacy Mobile devices constantly collect and share data, making personal privacy an issue. Mobile devices collect user information and location information, which can be shared with third parties for various purposes, including ad targeting. These third parties may use this data in ways you might not expect or approve of, such as selling it to other companies or using it for their own purposes without your knowledge.  The velocity at which data is changing hands keeps getting faster, and the winds of legislative change provide lessons for all companies on data responsibility. While some laws require companies to be transparent about collecting and using information on mobile devices (e.g., the GDPR), these laws don’t apply everywhere. They aren’t always applied the same across borders. As a product owner, ask yourself, “Is this necessary?” to help protect user data. Mobile devices are constantly collecting and sharing data, which can be used to track your location or share personal information. Data protection, security, and privacy are intertwined into the concept of data well-being. For your app to function properly, it may need access to sensitive information like the user’s location or contacts list. As such, the user must give explicit consent before any such data is accessed or shared. As an iOS developer (or any other type), you should always ask yourself: “Is this necessary?” If not—and if alternative methods are available—you should use those instead. Data is a precious resource—one of the most valuable assets to an organization that must be protected accordingly. With data sharing, less is more. Collecting only what you truly need will help protect your users’ privacy and security from potential hackers who might try stealing sensitive information from them through malware attacks on their mobile phone/tablet devices. Android & Apple: How They Handle Security Differently Ensuring the safety of our personal data and privacy is of utmost importance, and that’s where mobile security comes into play. When it comes to this, two of the biggest players in the market are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. While iOS is renowned for its closed ecosystem and timely security updates, Android’s strength lies in its open nature. Let’s delve deeper into their respective security mechanisms and compare their attributes. Which is more secure—iOS or Android? In general, iOS is considered to be more secure than Android. This is due to several factors, including: Apple’s Closed Ecosystem: Apple has much more control over the hardware and software that goes into its devices, which makes it more difficult for hackers to find and exploit vulnerabilities. Apple’s Aggressive Security Patching: Apple quickly releases security patches for its devices, which helps keep users safe from known vulnerabilities. Android’s Fragmentation: The Android ecosystem is very fragmented, with many different manufacturers and carriers offering their own operating system versions. This makes it more difficult for Google to release security patches for all Android devices and gives hackers more targets to exploit. However, it is important to note that no operating system is 100% secure. There have been malware and hacking attacks on iOS and Android devices. Ultimately, the security of your device depends on both the operating system and the user’s behavior. Android and iOS devices employ various security measures to keep data safe. Both Android and iOS use strong encryption features to protect data. If a device is stolen, the data cannot be accessed without the encryption key. However, there are differences in encryption methods between the two platforms. Android employs device-specific keys that are unique to each device. This means there is no universal key for all Android devices. Google services like Gmail or Chrome may have separate keys associated with them. Both the device-specific key and the Google key are required to access data. In contrast, iOS uses a combination of device-specific keys and iCloud keys. Even if someone has a device, they still need the iCloud password to access the data. While both platforms have strong encryption features, encryption is not foolproof. It is essential to take additional security measures to keep data safe. Security Features on Android Devices By utilizing data encryption, data accessibility, and other security features, Android devices effectively safeguard data against unauthorized access: Data Encryption: Android’s encryption features have become increasingly sophisticated and robust. All Android devices are encrypted by default, and Android 12 introduces improvements such as enhanced file-based encryption, stronger encryption for sensitive data, and new security features for app developers. Data Accessibility: Android devices use a permission system to regulate app data access. Only apps with granted permissions can access specific data. App permissions can be managed in Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > App permissions. Malware: Google Play Protect scans apps for malware and other security threats and monitors devices for suspicious activity.  Two-Factor Authentication: Android two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to Android devices and accounts by requiring a code from users’ phones and their passwords when logging in. Android users can enable Android 2FA in Settings > Security > 2-step verification. Find My: Find My Device helps locate lost or stolen devices and allows data erasure, if necessary. Dedicated Storage: Trusty is a dedicated secure subsystem on Android devices that securely stores sensitive data like fingerprint and face scan data. This data is encrypted and can only be accessed by authorized apps with the correct credentials. Security Updates: Google regularly releases security updates for Android, addressing potential vulnerabilities that attackers may exploit. It is important to install these updates promptly. Furthermore, Google’s latest Android operating system introduces new default app security features. Since Android 7.0 Nougat (released in 2016) automatically encrypts all Android devices. The data on the device is protected by a strong encryption key accessible only with the device passcode, PIN, or pattern. Android 12, the latest version, introduces additional security features, including: Enhanced Encryption: Android 12 encrypts files with unique keys, making it harder for attackers to access data even with compromised device encryption keys. Stronger encryption algorithms protect sensitive data like biometric authentication and app credentials. New Security Features for App Developers: Android 12 provides new APIs for developers to implement secure encryption practices. Security Features on iOS Devices iOS devices use a variety of security features to keep your data safe, including: Data Encryption: Using a strong encryption algorithm, iOS devices encrypt all user data by default. This means that if someone were to steal your device or gain unauthorized access to the data, they would not be able to read it without the encryption key. Your device passcode, PIN, or pattern protects the encryption key. Data Accessibility: iOS devices use a permission system to control which apps can access data. This means that apps can only access data you have permitted. You can control app permissions using Settings > Privacy & Security > App Permissions. Malware: Apple does not have a built-in malware scanner for iOS. Instead, Apple relies on several other security features to protect iOS devices, such as: Sandbox: iOS uses a sandbox system to isolate apps from each other and the system. This prevents malicious apps from accessing other apps or system files. Code Signing: All apps on the App Store are code-signed by Apple. This means that Apple has verified the developer’s identity, and the app has not been tampered with. Automatic Security Updates: iOS devices automatically receive security updates from Apple. This helps to keep iOS devices up to date with the latest security patches. Two-Factor Authentication: 2FA is a security feature that adds an extra layer of protection to your account by requiring you to enter a code from your phone and your password when logging in. You can enable 2FA for your Apple ID by going to Settings > Your Name > Password & Security. Find My: Find My is a service that can help you to locate your lost or stolen device. It can also help you erase your device’s data if necessary. Dedicated Storage: Secure Enclave is a dedicated chip that securely stores sensitive data like fingerprint and face scan data. This encrypted data can only be accessed with the iOS user’s passcode, PIN, or pattern. Security Updates: Apple releases security updates for iOS regularly. These updates patch security vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit. It is important to install security updates as soon as they are available. Furthermore, the latest iOS release, iOS 16, introduces several new security features and enhancements that help to protect users from a wide range of threats. Some of these features are, notably: Lockdown Mode: Lockdown Mode is a new mode that provides an extreme level of security for users who face targeted threats to their digital security. When Lockdown Mode is enabled, certain features and functionality are limited to help protect users from targeted attacks. For example, most messaging attachments other than images are blocked, and incoming FaceTime calls from unknown callers are prevented. Enhanced Privacy Controls: iOS 16 includes several new privacy controls, such as the ability to choose which apps are allowed to access your location and the ability to see which apps have accessed your clipboard in the past hour. Regarding apps and mobile devices, it’s clear that security is on everyone’s mind. With great convenience comes great responsibility. It’s important to approach security thoughtfully to navigate the digital landscape. Taking Security Further As a developer, you can go beyond what the OS offers by investing in security from the ground up. Taking the right precautions when developing mobile apps can help ensure user data is safe. The first step is to use a secure coding language and development environment. You can also implement specific security measures such as encryption, 2FA, and biometrics authentication. Securing Your First App The first step to ensuring your user data is safe is a secure coding language and development environment. There are many ways that hackers can get access to your app’s code, so it’s important that you use secure coding practices at every step of the process. If you are launching an app for the first time, the most important security things for you to know and implement are: Start with a security-first mindset. Keep security in mind throughout development, from design to implementation to testing. Don’t underestimate the importance of security testing. Hire a security professional to test your app before you release it. Be transparent with your users about how you are protecting their data. Publish a privacy policy and explain to your users how you are using their data. Be responsive to security vulnerabilities. If a security vulnerability is discovered in your app, fix it immediately and release a patch. By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your first app is secure and that your users have a positive experience. For enterprise-level data protection, add an extra layer of control. In addition to the above measures, large enterprise apps may also need to consider the following: Implement two-factor authentication for all of your apps. 2FA adds an extra layer of security to your apps by requiring users to enter a code from their phone in addition to their password when logging in. Use biometrics to authenticate users. Biometrics, such as fingerprints and face scans, are a secure way to authenticate users. Use a threat modeling process to identify and mitigate security risks. Threat modeling is a process that helps you to identify and assess potential security threats to your app. Once you have identified the threats, you can implement mitigation strategies to reduce the risk. Implement role-based access control. Role-based access control (RBAC) is a system that controls which users have access to which resources in your app. This helps to prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data or performing unauthorized actions. Implement a zero-trust security model. A zero-trust security model assumes no user or device can be trusted by default. This approach can help protect your app from unauthorized access, even if an attacker can compromise a user’s account or device. In addition to the above measures, large enterprise apps may need to comply with various regulations, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR. These regulations often have specific security requirements that must be met. It is important to educate your employees about security best practices. Security awareness and training will help reduce the risk of human error, a major cause of security breaches. Treat security as a competitive advantage. Mobile app security has become a top priority for businesses of all sizes. With the increasing number of data breaches and cyberattacks targeting mobile apps, users are more discerning than ever about the apps they download and use. Businesses that take mobile app security seriously can gain a significant competitive advantage. Many users need to be made aware of the security features available in mobile apps. Businesses can gain a competitive advantage by highlighting their app’s security features in marketing materials and app store listings. You can also innovate using security to your advantage. Taking mobile app security seriously can increase customer trust, loyalty, and market share. Focus on Security: Case Study For example, security is paramount in the rapidly evolving real estate industry. Buyers, sellers, and agents must be confident that their personal and financial information is safe and secure. inHere understands this and has made mobile app security a top priority. Industry experts have recognized this focus on mobile app security. inHere was nominated as an honorable mention for the Fast Company Security category of the prestigious Innovation by Design Awards. inHere’s focus on mobile app security has helped the company to build a reputation as a trusted and innovative platform for real estate transactions. This reputation has given inHere a competitive advantage in the market. Mobile Device Security Affects Everyone If you take the right precautions when developing mobile apps, you can ensure user data is safe. Personal privacy has become a pressing issue with the advent of mobile devices. With so much data being collected and shared by these devices, developers must be aware of the security and privacy concerns of creating iOS or Android apps. By following best practices when developing your app and keeping up with current trends in mobile technology, you can ensure that users will have peace of mind when using your product.

6 months ago

Technology

Top 10 Tech Disruptions Over the Past 10 Years

Technology is changing at such a rapid pace that we have seen many tech disruptions in a relatively short time.  A “disruptive technology” could be defined as one that displaces an established technology, thereby shaking up an industry and reshaping its future trajectory. A tech disruptor could also be a ground-breaking product that creates an entirely new industry.  Join our drive down the technology superhighway as we rediscover the top tech disruptions over the past 10 years and dive into what’s next. 2014: Amazon Echo Brings the IoT Home Amazon Echo barreled into our lives this year, causing us to rethink how we might use technology in our homes. Powered by Amazon’s voice control system Alexa, the Echo started with just a few intelligent voice commands. Alexa now boasts thousands of “skills” and has become the central hub in so-called smart homes, helping to bring the Internet of Things (IoT) to a much wider audience. Followed quickly by Google Home and more recently by Apple HomePod, this technology is sure to continue to grow. 2015: Autonomous Vehicles Inspire Change The autonomous car, aka the self-driving car, is envisioned as one capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. The quest to develop technologies that could enable such a feat began to rise in 2015. Consumers have benefitted from numerous changes in car technology (think adaptive speed tech, proximity sensors, guidance systems, etc.) as manufacturers began pursuing this vision. This dramatic reshaping of the automotive industry certainly deserves a call-out. 2016: Oculus Rift Opens Up Virtual Reality Virtual reality (VR) as a concept has been around for decades and offers increasing value in everything from military training to surgery simulation to product development and testing. Although Google had been selling Google Glass prototypes since 2013, VR’s availability to consumers was limited until the introduction of Oculus Rift in 2016. With its launch, VR exploded into many homes. The system was a hot gift and introduced the concept of VR to a broader audience—it’s hard not to enjoy (or laugh with?) someone experiencing VR for the first time! 2017: AI Takes the Stage Artificial intelligence (AI) is a science-fiction trope brought to life. With numerous large companies investing billions of dollars on research in this field, it’s poised to influence how we live and work in the coming years. Applications include everything from automating tasks using bots to enabling computers to answer complex, multi-tiered questions by “learning” from previous queries. 2018: 5G Begins Its Rollout As connectivity became more ubiquitous, fast and reliable internet demand increased. It’s not enough to watch a streaming movie in the middle of nowhere—it has to be smooth! Beginning in 2018, 5G promised to bring more channels for higher speed, lower latency, and greater bandwidth for more connected devices. But 5G wasn’t exciting for smartphone fans only: the benefits had implications for healthcare, education, smart homes, connected cars, and more. 2019: 3D Printers Revolutionize the 4th Industrial Revolution Although the technology and equipment for 3D printing were available in the mid-1980s, 3D printing was imprecise, bulky, and costly. Thirty years later, 3D printing made it to the mainstream as a disruptive technology. This disruptive technology appeared in 2019 as part of predictive maintenance in manufacturing. Smart sensors helped identify potential problems, and 3D printers built new parts before needing to be needed. 2020: Passwordless Authentication Hits Big Tech For many of us, forgetting our passwords is a daily occurrence, but those days may be behind us, thanks to the push for passwordless authentication in 2020. While the world stood still during the COVID-19 pandemic, big tech companies like Microsoft began to push for two-factor authentication and passwordless logins, and an identity management startup called Beyond Identity launched its passwordless identify platform in April. Companies like Adobe and Facebook began utilizing new security features to give us the luxury of forgetting those complicated passwords. 2021: IoT Builds the Virtual World Technology automation through IoT didn’t begin in 2021, but this year brought a boon for intelligent everything. The IoT connects objects in the real world—navigation systems, thermostats, your virtual assistant, Alexa—with virtual identifiers on the internet. These identifiers “talk” virtually to create a web of connections and collaborations between the devices. Although IoT has been used in home-based applications, 2021 brought the technology to new areas, including manufacturing, mining, and healthcare. 2022: ChatGPT Redefines Human-Computer Interaction In 2022, ChatGPT emerged as the undeniable frontrunner and the most influential tech disruption of the year. Developed by OpenAI, this groundbreaking language model harnessed the power of the GPT-3.5 architecture to revolutionize human-computer interactions. With its ability to understand context, generate coherent responses, and adapt to users’ needs, ChatGPT transcended traditional chatbots, becoming a sophisticated conversational AI companion. Its applications spanned diverse industries, from customer support to creative writing, education, and even healthcare. As ChatGPT continuously learned and evolved, it showcased the transformative potential of artificial intelligence, leaving an indelible mark on the technology landscape of 2022 and beyond. 2023: Apple Vision Pro Unleashes the Power of Spatial Computing In 2023, spatial computing, specifically the Apple Vision Pro, emerged as the pinnacle of technological disruption, revolutionizing how we interact with digital information. Years earlier, Apple’s visionary smartwatch had cemented Apple as the leader in wearable technology. In 2023, the Apple Vision Pro promises to enable users to seamlessly integrate virtual elements into their physical surroundings, unlocking unparalleled immersion and productivity. We can now see a future where the days of limited screen real estate are gone; users can effortlessly interact with a vast array of applications and data in a three-dimensional, contextually aware environment. This leap in spatial computing may solidify VR’s position as an indispensable tool and open up new frontiers in communication, productivity, and entertainment, forever changing the way we perceive and interact with technology. What’s next? Tech disruptions in the 21st century have transformed our reality into a digital-first experience. Technology is changing faster than ever. Backed by a confluence of all these giant leaps forward, the future is a brave new world. Our predictions for what’s next include: Prediction 1: Quantum Computing Revolutionizes Data Processing Quantum computing is poised to shatter the boundaries of traditional computing capabilities. With its ability to leverage quantum mechanics principles, it will handle complex problems at speeds that were once deemed impossible. Industries such as pharmaceuticals, logistics, and cryptography will see groundbreaking advancements, leading to accelerated drug discovery, optimized supply chains, and next-level data security. As quantum computers become more accessible, researchers and innovators will unlock the potential for solving real-world challenges that were previously impossible. Prediction 2: Hyper-Automation Transforms Workforce Efficiency Hyper-automation is revolutionizing the business world with advanced technologies like AI, machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA). By automating complex processes, companies can boost productivity, streamline operations, and free up time for creative and strategic initiatives. This transformational trend empowers workers through upskilling and reskilling, leading to a promising future where technology complements human expertise for greater success. Prediction 3: AI-Driven Personalization Enhances User Experience As AI continues to integrate deeply into our digital lives, offering personalized experiences across platforms becomes the new norm. Users are already encountering tailored content, services, and product recommendations that cater precisely to their preferences in e-commerce, entertainment, content consumption, and even healthcare. However, this era of heightened personalization is also bringing data privacy and ethical AI usage to the forefront, driving the need for responsible AI development and regulation to ensure user trust and societal well-being. More Transformative Digital Solutions At InspiringApps, we’re passionate about harnessing the power of tech’s newest disruptions to create transformative digital solutions. More than that, we’re thrilled to collaborate with our clients’ brilliant ideas and make them a reality. Could your digital product idea be the next big thing in your industry? See how we helped Fidelity National Financial create a transformative solution for the real estate industry with their award-winning product, inHere.

8 months ago

Blog Categories
App Design
App Development
App Marketing
Business & Strategy
Client Projects
Culture & Innovation
Digital Products
Events
InspiringApps News
Mobile Industry
Technology
Webinars