Summer Technology Activities
Teens live with phones in hand. How can you encourage them to keep active and keep learning over the summer, even while looking at a screen? Our Education Technology team put together the following list of tech ideas to keep kids communicating, creating, moving, and learning over the summer using the technology they crave.
Geo Caching gets kids outdoors and moving while using GPS to participate in "the world's largest treasure hunt." Visit geocaching.com to learn more and find caches in your area. Going on vacation? Set waypoints on your GPS device before you go to build your own guide to the greatest views, monuments, and more.
Waypoint EDU is a free tool for creating your own scavenger hunts. Pull up a map of your neighborhood, a park, or your vacation destination to create your own custom GPS scavenger hunt to ensure your kids look up from their device to take in the views and learn something new.
Google My Maps is a great tool for getting your family involved in community mapping. Explore your neighborhood and document resources, needs, and potential service projects. This article from the Peace Corps may help you get started.
Google Tour Creator and Google My Maps are both great tools for creating an interactive report about places you visit this summer. Your kids can create their own virtual tour with 360° photos in Tour Creator. Or they can use My Maps to drop pins on their own customizable map and add information and photos that tell the story of that location. For your teens who love to snap selfies, this a great way for them to create something informative with their photos!
SLC Mobile is an app that provides interactive maps for many of our local communities and hiking trails. The app allows users to report issues like fallen trees blocking a trail or problems around your community you would like to see repaired. Many Utah recreational areas also have their own apps, youth programs, or electronic brochures that your kids can use to access maps, study field guides, and learn about local ecology efforts. Alta resort's SKE-COLOGY program and the Jordanelle campground website are just two examples. Some companies, like REI also have websites and apps with trail maps and outdoor adventure information. Many have free resources for kids and families.
Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and LittleBits are tools for those of you who want to spend more time digging deeply into STEM with your kids this summer. Imagine building a weather balloon that records temperature, speed, light, and atmospheric pressure, films its own launch and sends out GPS coordinates for its post-launch recovery. The tools are not simple to use, but they can provide great opportunities for outdoor summer learning and teamwork between parents and children for those willing to put in a little extra effort.
Department of Tourism websites can help you plan for just about anywhere you want to visit this summer. visitutah.com is your key to all things Utah, particularly the Mighty 5 national parks in our state. Be sure to look for app downloads on your destination's website or in the welcome center when you arrive. Many locations have QR codes to scan, apps with guided audio tours, or activities for kids and teens to participate in. Younger kids might like to participate in the National Park Service Junior Ranger or Web Ranger programs.
Clips is a free app created by Apple that is great for creating quick-edit videos. Are you in for a long car ride on your family trip this summer, and your teens only want to text and watch movies? Why not challenge them to create their own movies instead? Maybe they can conduct family interviews and capture all of the greatest family stories. With clips they can narrate as they record family members or even the views they see outside the car window.
iMovie is another great filmmaking app for kids who want to spend a little more time on film production over the summer. The sky is the limit when it comes to possible film projects. Your kids can create a documentary about their dirt biking adventures, a feature film that is set in the "wilderness" of the neighborhood park, or a public service announcement about leaving no trace when camping in the mountains. And, of course, they can submit their finished project to our District Film Festival.
Pages comes standard on every Apple device and is a great way to turn photos, Instagram pics, selfies, and videos into journals of summer activities. Science and math are so naturally built in to summer activities, like gardening, sports, and more. Challenge your kids to track data, measure growth, and document experiments and then use Pages to create a beautiful journal of their adventures that includes tables, graphs, text, and multimedia.
Stack the States is an app that makes learning U.S. geography fun for kids of all ages. This is just one way to prepare if you're planning a tour of our nation's capital for summer vacation. You and your kids can also visit websites like the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center or whitehouse.gov. You can even ask Alexa to quiz your kids on state capitals!