Coding is one of the many pathways into bringing to life creative thoughts, and is special as it engages with the digital world, while also bridging the real world. Middle school, when children are filled with energy, creativity, and openness, is one of the best times to open up the journey towards coding! So today we will go over awesome spaces where children can get hands-on into real, programming in a fun, holistic way. Discover some of the best coding camps for middle schoolers!
Explore Coding Camps for Middle Schoolers
Let's take a look at some programs that can help middle schoolers develop a passion for computer science and lifelong learning. This award-winning middle school coding curriculum is designed by experts from Google, Stanford and MIT, and equips students with the skills to think on their own, understand computer science intuition, and embrace creative action.
The curriculum is diverse, taking into account a child’s excitement and comfort level when diving into coding and its applications. Scratch classes can enable bringing a child’s stories to life, Python opens the door for real-world programming principles, and Roblox brings creative energy to life in the gaming space — each class is unique, similar to a child’s interests. A student’s age level as well as aptitude for coding matters - and it is important to address the needs based on prerequisite knowledge. For example, for advanced students who aspire to one day take high school computer science class, AP-based curriculum is offered (Java programming).
We recommend starting with foundation camps, choosing intermediate camps based on interests, and completing advanced camps for ambitious learners.
Top Free Coding Camps for Middle Schoolers
Create & Learn offers live online computer science camps in seasons aligned with the school year - Spring Break, Summer, Winter, Thanksgiving, and New Year. The curriculum have been thoughtfully designed by Google and Stanford experts to balance learning, passion, and most importantly fun! Teachers are lively and passionate – they truly care about students’ learning. Classes are meant to allow for easy scheduling (simply choose four consecutive days in a week), and students can earn a certificate to celebrate their accomplishment in completing the camp! Individualized attention is core towards a comfortable learning experience - therefore classes are often capped at a maximum of 5 students per instructor.
There are also many free coding camps to try first, to see what sparks your middle schooler’s interests!
We highly recommend Scratch as the best place to start your child’s journey into coding – by using a simple drag-drop code block design, it encourages students to learn the fundamentals - computational thinking, critical thinking, logic, and of course, embracing their creativity. However, for students who have solid previous experience with coding, Python may also be an option to begin with – it's a programming language used extensively in the real world from artificial intelligence, to helping doctors through medicinal research.
1. Free Accelerated Scratch
The free class allows a middle schooler to get comfortable with Scratch through a cool project, all in just an hour! There are no prerequisites, and is the best place to start for a middle schooler who is quite new to coding. Students get familiar with the Scratch interface, which balances storytelling, animations, games, and personal creativity all through block-based coding logic. This free class is an intro to the Accelerated Scratch curriculum which is designed to engage students to learn core coding concepts through fun animations and game projects.
2. Free Minecraft Modding
If your child is already well-versed in Scratch, and ready for more-in depth computer science concepts, this class takes on the popular game platform Minecraft, learning coding skills while starting to build their first mod! It is great for middle schoolers who are ready for critical thinking, dabbling with challenges, and room for creating a whole suit of awesome characters, structures, and designs! This intro class provides familiarity with the software environment and is applicable for middle schoolers who have had at least 20 hours of Scratch coding experience, or completed Create & Learn/s Scratch Ninja I and II classes.
3. Free AI Explorers
It’s no understatement that AI has increased immense interest in today’s world from sports all the way to even art. This free AI Explorers class gives middle schoolers a hint into what AI is all about, and if they are ready to engage in this 3 Level course! With fun videos, active discussion, and thought-provoking class inquiry, this fun class allows students to dabble with the intuition of AI in an age-appropriate, intuitive style.
4. Free Python
Python is an essential skill in the real world — and especially for middle schoolers, is an amazing stepping stone for a taste of real-world programming. An alternative to block-based coding, this intro camp gives a peak to students about text-based coding syntax, all while learning how to draw/animate in Python. This intro camp familiarizes students with the coding platform, and also is hands-on in encouraging students to build a cool animation at the end of the hour! This camp is apt for students who are ready for the exciting challenge of Python if they are new to coding, or have already dabbled with Scratch coding.
5. Free Roblox Coding
Roblox is a fun choice for many bright young minds, and is perfect for students who had not had prior experience with Roblox Studio, but have already completed Scratch Ninja 3 or equivalent Scratch coding classes. A very popular curriculum, this intro camp helps students to set up the software, how to navigate, and just feel comfortable with the Studio environment! This is a good choice for middle schoolers as Roblox coding brings with it engagement, thoughtful creation, and a flexible coding environment.
Top Coding Camps for Middle Schoolers
After trying a free intro camp, or simply identifying your child’s needs, a paid camp curriculum is designed to be a step-by-step pathway into a holistic learning experience. Especially in middle school, as children are actively developing interests, a set curriculum can help guide healthy learning. Every paid camp comes with expert-designed curriculum, experienced teachers, and a final certificate for every student to feel proud of their accomplishment. Camps prioritize individualized attention, often with 2-5 students per camp, and 55-70 minutes in a discussion-based environment with passionate instructors.
1. Accelerated Scratch
Accelerated Scratch is an awesome way for middle schoolers new to coding, to engage their creative energy into problem solving, computational thinking through a fun storytelling and game-creating platform. Through block-based coding, this camp covers fundamental computer science skills (loops, variables, functions, lists, and more) through project-based learning! Especially in middle school, it is important to encourage critical thinking and hands-on experiences, and this class with 3 levels emphasizes this, with its interactive atmosphere filled with animation and game projects, allowing each child to bring to life their unique ideas.
2. Smart Devices
Arduino coding is an awesome way for middle schoolers to delve into robotics interfaces, and being able to design sensing systems and more in the world of electronics! This unique curriculum is apt for children who are excited by circuits, sensors, and wish to learn how to program a simple robot or similar smart technology. With its three-part curriculum, this Arduino camp starts from Ohm’s Law and extends to building even a Light Show, and shows a unique way to apply coding to the tangible world.
3. Mobile Coding for Apps & Games
Mobile apps have taken on the world today, and it is only natural that a middle schooler may wish to understand how such an app is built for the smartphone! Using Thinkable, this three-level Mobile Coding camp teaches students about UI, cloud variables, and incorporates fun projects from riddles, image recognition, word games, and more. Especially for middle schoolers who prefer applying computational thinking to a fun real world application, this camp is a unique way to see where coding skills can be used in a special way. Prerequisites include students having already taken Scratch 2, or being familiar with loops, if/then statements, and variables.
4. Beginner Roblox Coding
Roblox Coding is a popular camp due to its fun environment, and especially if your middle schooler loves games! This camp is perfect for engaging creativity, and active game design where students learn coding skills that can be applied to creating game elements such as color configuration, multiplayer dynamics, and run/dodge/jump functions for a character. If your child seeks game-building and enjoys creative thinking, this 3-part curriculum may be a great way to foster computer science concepts (if/then, loops, variables, and more) in a very engaging manner. Prerequisites include having completed Scratch 3 or equivalent prior.
5. Python for AI
Python is a core programming language — an essential skill for the real world. And in middle school, when thoughts are diverse, this camp will provide a real sense of what text-based programming is all about. This 3-part curriculum gradually builds from basics of variables, syntax, functions, and simple data structures, progresses to dictionaries, file input/output, and ends in object-oriented programming basics and holistic project creation. Each camp session balances learning through fun hands-on projects including stories, animations, and games to never let go of the most important thing when learning a new topic - fun. If your child is younger, it is recommended to have previous Scratch coding experience.
6. Modern Website Design with Wix
Websites are thoughtfully designed - from their colors, to their features, to their cool animations. A very popular topic among many middle schoolers who may wonder how to create a website for their clubs or extracurriculars, this camp allows students to learn how to build a website from start to finish with projects! In this fun three-part camp, students are taught how to design a website’s layout and also dive deep into customizing the aesthetics. Engaging with the Wix platform, students build websites on individual topics each student feels passionate about, all while learning about templates, structure, design, site statistics, website flow, and more! With no strict previous prerequisites, a coding background (Scratch) or design background (Canva) is recommended.
7. Data Science with Python & Pandas
Data science has become a popular topic in today’s world - with its impacts ranging from medicine, all the way to journalism. Pandas is a popular Python library, interfacing the world of real data, and grappling with Python programming to design cool scripts. In this camp, middle schoolers can get a real feel for what the chaotic, captivating world of data is really about. This curriculum is apt for students who have already completed Python for AI Part 3, or equivalent, as students apply Python programming to data cleaning, processing, analytics, visualization, all while embarking on a capstone project.
8. Unity Game Development
9. Computer Science Principles
This camp is for the middle schooler who is ready for some real in-depth excitement (and recommended to have completed the Python curriculum). Especially if your child is hoping to one day take the APCSP class in high school, this camp will help prepare for the exam. This camp is in-depth knowledge on computer science: ranging from types of data, algorithm efficiency, to understanding bias. Through a balance of small projects and rich discussions, this curriculum is more rigorous, to help prepare students for the APCSP if your child wishes to do so (through the Create Performance Task companion class + Core class).
Explore more coding camp options for middler school students here.
Start Coding Camps for Middle Schoolers
It is never too late to start coding — and it is a lifelong journey of conscious thought, excitement, and creativity all in the balance of computational thinking and problem solving. Hope you enjoyed this article providing unique options to middle schoolers on how to get started diving into this world of coding! Especially during this age, children can truly discover and try new things to understand what they naturally gravitate towards.
Ready to get started learning coding and having fun? Learn how to make a Mario game on Scratch.
Written by Pavithra Nagarajan, a Create & Learn instructor. Pavithra is a bioinformatician and completed her master's degree from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She finds computational biology awesome (code-ception she wishes it were called), and is the curriculum designer for these classes here at Create & Learn. She truly loves teaching, and is a dancer.