FAQs - Silicon STEM Academy


What is Silicon STEM Academy?

Silicon STEM Academy is a technology workspace and training center for young thinkers, tinkerers and technologists. We also have adults join some of our classes. We have a singular focus to inspire and equip the next generation of technologists with the skills required to be creative, effective, innovative leaders and problem solvers in the 21st Century.

What does STEM mean?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It is a common term used in education to describe the latest effort to increase student exposure to these disciplines, as economists believe that careers in these areas will be in high demand in the near future. According to the 2013-2014 World Economic Forum, the U.S. is 49th in the world in quality of math and science education. Further, the U.S. is 27th in the world among developed nations for students earning an undergraduate degree in science and engineering. The U.S. has some ground to make up, so Silicon STEM is helping to fill the void by delivering a comprehensive STEM-based curriculum for our next generation of innovators.

Where is Silicon STEM located?

Silicon STEM Academy is in southeast Denver. Our address is 4201 E. Yale Ave, Denver, 80222 – conveniently located near the intersection of Colorado Blvd. and Yale Ave., less than a mile from I-25, exit 202. Contact us at 303.800.0011. During Summer Camps, we also have satellite locations in schools in other parts of the Denver metro area.

What is Silicon?

Silicon is a periodic element (Si) with the atomic number 14. Silicon is the 8th most common element in the universe by mass and the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust after oxygen. The southern part of the San Francisco Bay area was coined the Silicon Valley after a number of silicon computer chip manufacturers settled in the area. Now, Silicon is a term that has become synonymous with computer innovation. Silicon STEM Academy is, however, a Denver-based company.

What types of courses does Silicon STEM Academy offer?

We offer three primary course categories: 1) Coding, 2) Engineering, and 3) Digital Media. Coding, or Computer Programming, focuses on learning problem-solving skills using various computer programming languages, including: Karel, Java, JavaScript, Python, C++ and more. Coding skills are increasingly becoming fundamental skills for many 21st century careers. Our Engineering curriculum is comprised of Robotics, Mechanics and Electronics, where students learn how things work and how to build things of their own creation. Finally, our Digital Media track shows students how to organize, show and share their ideas through the creative use of social media channels and design applications.

My student has no programming experience. Which coding class should she start with?

For the entry-level programming student, there are two possible tracks to follow. For the younger kiddos (suggested 6-7 grades, but fun for older kids, too), Scratch is a wonderful educational program using drag and drop building blocks that control and animate sprites, allowing them to build games and stories. For the slightly older kiddo and for those who have a serious interest in computer programming, we recommend Coding 101. This uses the Stanford University-based Karel Programming educational language, where students learn the fundamentals of syntax, code commenting, function definition, if/else statements and variables. Karel is taught using an online code editor, which enables students to solve a series of problems by using coding skills. It is highly recommended that students take Coding 101 before taking our other programming courses, such as Coding 201–JavaScript, Python, Java or other general use programming languages.

Why should a student learn computer programming?

There are several highly practical reasons for students of all ages to learn computer programming. Practically speaking, Computer Science is, on average, the highest-paid college major upon graduation; and there are expected to be 1 million unfilled jobs in Computer Science in the U.S. by 2020. Besides that, and perhaps even more important, computer programming is a fun and a creative way to learn problem-solving skills, which will serve students in everyday life.

My student has already taken a computer programming class. What class should she take next?

If your student already has a strong understanding of the computer programming basics, then Java, JavaScript, Python or C++ may be the next logical step. Be aware that students who have not taken Intro to Coding with Karel may be asked to demonstrate their proficiency with a short quiz before moving on to other programming languages.

My student has already worked with LEGO robotics in school. Is it worth going forward into either the Arduino or TETRIX robotics classes?

YES. While LEGO MindStorms provides a great introduction to robotics and software operations, Arduino and TETRIX are definitely the next level. If your student enjoys robotics, then more advanced classes will only expand their learning opportunity. Furthermore, some students may opt to augment their love for robotics with a more specific class in computer programming so that they may program their own robots in the future.

What ages are most appropriate for Silicon STEM classes?

Silicon STEM Academy is available and welcomes students of all ages ranging from 8-100 years! (Summer camps are for students 8-18.) The courses are offered in a variety of days and times to accommodate a mix of student’s schedules and availabilities. Please call 303.800.0011 to talk to a student advisor if you don’t see a time or day that meets your interest.

What are the instructors’ qualifications?

Silicon STEM Academy instructors are a team of certified teachers as well as professional programmers and technologists. During summer camps, many of our Senior Counselors are College students studying STEM specialties from area schools like Colorado School of Mines, CU, DU, CSU, etc. They each possess expertise in specific areas of study and all are selected to aligned with the culture, attitude and teaching approach of Silicon STEM Academy. All instructors, camp counselors and assistants undergo a thorough background check and detailed training process before tackling the responsibilities of managing a class full of students.

If my student doesn’t like the course, can I get a refund?

Unfortunately, we do not offer refunds for a class that a student decides he no longer likes. His enrollment most likely prevented another student from enrolling in that course, and Silicon STEM cannot backfill his seat. The most common reason for a student to lose interest in a class is that he or she is enrolled in a course that is beyond his or her skill level. To prevent this, be sure your student enrolls in the appropriate course for his skill level. Silicon STEM wants to provide the best learning environment for each student and will work with the student to identify a more appropriate future class.

What is Arduino?

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for anyone making interactive projects and is used in many of our robotics and electronics classes.

What is the average class size?

At Silicon STEM, we’re committed to the student experience and to the learning process. That’s why our classes typically have no more than 16 students with 1 instructor AND 1 or more instructional assistant. Many are smaller with 1 or 2 instructors. We believe that this is the most effective way to guarantee results in a fun, safe interactive environment.

What is the Silicon STEM Academy Internship Program?

After your child (age 16+) has successfully completed 5 courses with Silicon STEM Academy, he or she may be considered for our Internship Program. Silicon STEM Interns will receive training to assist with instruction, learn IT skills and participate in our community outreach efforts. Interns may also be considered for Summer Camp employment.

When do the summer camps begin?

Summer Camps typically begin the 2nd week of June and run through the end of July or early August, depending upon the location. Camps will focus on Coding, Engineering, Game Design and Digital Media and are offered in a full-week half-day format. Check out our All-Day, All Week Summer Academies for kids 13+.

Is there a sibling-discount?

Yes, a $50 Sibling Credit is available to our students when their sibling enrolls at Silicon STEM Academy.

How do I sign up for a class or summer camp?

Signing up for a class is easy. Go to our website and follow the menu to the summer camp or course location of your choice. Follow the prompts to register online!

Do you offer any discounts?

Yes. We offer sibling and multi-camp discounts during summer camps. Ask about our a Refer-a-Friend discount at info@siliconstemacademy.com.