Max Miller said two summers ago he was talking to one of his campers at Sunrise Day Camp about coding.
Miller said his camper told him he wished Sunrise had a lab where Miller could teach him how to code.
Now, not only does the camp have a Sunrise S.T.E.A.M Shack on the grounds, but Sunrise on Wheels is bringing coding to kids while they undergo treatment at the hospital.
The program launched last week at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Cohen Children’s Medical Center.
“It was really great,” said Miller, a 17-year-old from Roslyn. “The kids loved it.”
Sunrise Day Camp is a camp where children with cancer and their siblings can attend for free. Sunrise on Wheels, currently in 15 hospitals around the world brings activities to kids in the hospital all year round.
In addition to the toys and games for kids that typically fill Sunrise’s rainbow trunk as it rolls through the hospital, STEAM activities like Kano computer kits will be offered, as well.
Miller, captain of the Friends Academy robotics team, enjoys technology based activities. But, he said, not only are the STEAM based activities fun for the kids they also help them stay on track with their peers.
“There’s a very high cure rate [for childhood cancer] but almost all fall behind at school because they spend months at a time missing school,” Miller said. “If they can learn to code it can better their life.”
The STEAM lessons give kids a better chance of getting a job later on, Miller said.
“Kids spend so much time [at the hospital],” Miller said. “If they can use it productively it’s really amazing.”
The program is participating in the Hour of Code, a global movement of millions of students in over 180 countries.
The program lets kids build their own computers and learn to code on Kano computers kits.
Joanna Bersin, Kano’s Head of Education, said in a Sunrise release that “Kano is excited to support the Sunrise on Wheels program and empower these children with creative computing.”
This summer, The Sunrise S.T.E.A.M. Shack was a portable trailer. But next year, the full lab will open at the camp.
When Miller originally pitched the idea for a technology lab, camp director Deanna Slade said it wasn’t in the camp’s budget but was open to the idea.
Miller raised $300,000 in crowdfunding to get the S.T.E.A.M. Shack ready for next summer. Companies also donated services to minimize costs, such as Verizon who offered to provide the underground wiring for free.
The S.T.E.A.M. Shack will also feature robotics and 3-D printing.
Earlier this year, Miller along with Louie Kotler, Miles Miller and Sophie Rubin, took home the Best in Class and Editors Choice awards at the 8th annual World Maker Faire.
Currently, S.T.E.A.M Shack’s website is filled with information about the program. In the future, Miller said he hopes it becomes a portal where the kids can virtually connect with other children going through similar experiences.