The Importance of Enrichment Programs for Middle School Students

Rich Boschetti, DPIE Academy Director
May 12, 2021

It has been said by many educators over the years that “Core classes are where kids learn the basics, but elective classes are where kids learn creativity.”

One of the great things about attending middle school in the 21st century is the interesting variety of elective courses students get to choose from.  The problem for most students in grades 6 – 8 is their school day is so full of the basic “core” classes, they seldom have the freedom to explore some of those interesting electives that may help them tap into their hidden talents and discover new passions.

Understanding the importance of enrichment opportunities in a student’s development, DPIE is offering a wide range of enrichment courses in this year’s DPIE Summer Program for Middle School.  This summer is offering four hands-on technology courses designed for middle school students. Two are being taught by DUSD teachers from Fallon Middle School - Design & Modeling and Computer Science for Innovators & Makers and two are being offered by our vendor partner, Code to the Future - Advanced Super Scratch Camp and Level 2 Galactic Scratch Camp.

Computer Science for Innovators & Makers – Mr. Kyle Voeller

Asked how students will benefit from his course, Mr. Voeller explained, “The primary purpose of this class is two-fold. The first goal is to provide all students a foundation in computer science. All students should be able to leave this course feeling confident that they could be successful in future computer science classes. The second goal is for students to learn how Computer Science extends beyond the computer into the real world. While many students understand how coding and computer science principles apply to games they might play on a computer, but they are less aware of how computer science integrates with physical systems like traffic lights or thermostats.”

“Students learn that computer science is a place where they can express their creativity. We give them real life problem scenarios and they have to use computer science skills to design, build and create physical devices to create solutions. No two solutions are ever the same,” explained Mr. Voeller, “but their solutions always reflect the creative ideas of the maker.”

Design & Modeling – Mr. Gabe Manalac

Why should students enroll in your class?  "The primary purpose of the Design & Modeling course is to introduce students to the design process; the same process that engineers, computer scientists and biomedical scientists use to tackle different challenges they face.  We empower students to adopt a design thinking mindset through different challenges and our activities build upon themselves. The best part about learning the design process is that students can apply it to their everyday lives to help both in school and beyond.” explained Mr. Manalac.

“Unlike academic courses, this class is a hands-on learning experience that allows students to use their own creative thinking. That is what students enjoy most about this class. Not only do we introduce students to the fundamentals of engineering, but students learn valuable skills like, critical thinking, teamwork and public speaking that can transfer to other courses students take during the year,” concluded Mr. Manalac.

Galactic Scratch Camp & Super Scratch Camp - Mr. Rhodri Freeman

Code to the Future has been teaching beginning coding classes in the DPIE After School Program to elementary students for the last four years so any student who has participated in those or other coding courses, would be candidates to enroll in the Galactic Scratch and/or Advanced Super Scratch courses. Code to the Future has a national reputation for their coding courses and have created advanced courses for the student who wants to expand their coding knowledge to a higher level.

“If kids enjoy coding, they will love these classes,” said Mr. Freeman.  “Most of our kids just can’t get enough and since they are always learning new skills and facing new challenges. They just never get bored!”

Galactic Scratch requires students to have had one year of coding experience, while Advanced Super Scratch Camp requires two years of previous experience.  In each class, students will be introduced to higher levels of coding. The goal of these classes is to challenge students to learn and introduce new levels of design, character interaction and enhanced graphics in their game creation.   


Whether you call it STEM, STEAM or STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Art and Math) the two technology courses we have mentioned, which are being offered in the DPIE’s Summer Program, will help develop the coding, computer science and/or engineering skills in your student.  But more importantly, because they are considered fun courses by most students, they will help stimulate your student’s creative thinking, problem solving, teamwork, dedication and passion for learning, all skills that are in demand in the today’s world.

To learn more about these technology courses and our other courses we are offering, click here for a full course description and to enroll.