By Natalie Burg
Around 3:30 p.m. each weekday, students mostly from middle and high schools file into the common area of Silicon STEM Academy in Denver. They toss down their bags, pull out snacks or playing cards, and the room comes alive with chatter and motion. Managing partner and co-owner of the school Kelly Scarborough calls this rush of activity “the quickening.”
Going to school immediately after school might sound like the last thing a kid would get excited about, but Silicon STEM Academy is different. It offers hands-on courses in computer science and engineering — subjects few kids can access at their day schools. The first six-week session began in January with six courses and nearly 40 students. By the third session, a few months later, more than 70 students had enrolled. Eighteen courses in coding, engineering and digital media are now offered.
“Once we saw the initial response, we knew we needed to scramble to stay ahead of our students,” said Scarborough. For kids who easily mastered Java 1, the school quickly developed Java II. For those ready for more advanced coding, mobile app development classes for Android and iPhone were made available.
Silicon STEM Academy student Liam Homburger (right) and fellow seventh-grader Christian Blackmum build a Lego robot that can be programmed.
After only six months in business, the academy is not only filling a demand from kids excited to learn about technology, but it also has tapped into a demand for a more tech-trained workforce by engaging learners of all ages.
Enriching Childhood Education
Kelly and her husband, John Scarborough, were inspired to launch the school about eight years ago after looking for computer programming instruction for their own tech-enamored son and finding a lack of options…