A researcher at the Tyndall Institute in Cork has been awarded a prestigious grant to run interactive online summer camps for children.
Brazilian electrical engineer Marinara Marcato, who is pursuing a PhD at the Tyndall on artificial intelligence and wearable sensors, will use the grant to expand her education start-up business to offer interactive coding, robotics, arts, and forensic science classes for children online over the next three weeks.
With most traditional summer camps cancelled because of the Covid-19 crisis, Marinara said everyone has had to find new ways of interacting with people.
“I understand that people will have some concerns about summer camps online — this is something new,” she said.
“But this is basically teaching in a fun interactive way. The girls leading the classes are all teachers.
"The platform through which that teaching is being delivered is the only difference, really. The world is changing right now and we all need to adapt.”
Marinara has a passion for STEAM subjects — science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths — and for teaching them, established an online education start-up, SMART Edu Club, earlier this year, offering free online learning to children who love science, using fun engaging videos, interactive apps, and games.
When schools shut, demand for the courses surged, and more than 1,300 families worldwide subscribed.
Marinara has now been named as one of 50 participants in the Blackstone LaunchPad Powered by Techstar entrepreneurship network, a programme which aims to turn students in the US and Ireland with good business ideas into entrepreneurs.
The grant will help her to expand her company’s educational content to run a coding and robotics camps next week, followed by an arts and crafts camp the following week, and a forensics camp the week after.
Each five-day camp begins with a live one-hour interactive session led by an instructor on Zoom, who will set tasks which should take at least two hours.
Each week-long camp costs €50, with discounts for family groups.
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