Live STEM Virtual Classes — FAQs
If you are considering registering, please check out these frequently asked questions.
- +What technologies and topics do you teach?
Our complete curriculum includes nearly 30 subjects organized into six paths. The list below is simplified: most listed topics options for older and younger children and many for more advanced students.
- Tech & Design Path
- Stop-Motion Animation
- Digital Animation
- Music Production/Digital Audio Design
- 3D Sculpting
- 3D Architecture
- 3D Engineer and Design
- Coding Path
- Python & PyGame
- Robotics & Engineering Path
- FIRST LEGO League
- Junior LEGO League
- Robotics Engineering with Arduino
- Robotics & Electronics with LEGO Mindstorms EV3
- Robotics & Coding Introduction with Spike Prime
- Minecraft Path
- Minecraft Exploration of Art, Architecture, Circuitry (Redstone), & Animation
- Advanced Minecraft with Modding, Commands, & Redstone
- Video Game Development Path
- 2D Video Game Development
- 3D Video Game Development
- Girls STEM Path
- Girls STEM for Elementary School
- Girls STEM for Middle School
In order to most quickly meet unprecedented demand, we are offering five of these topics in March, with additional ones coming online in April.
- Tech & Design Path
- +What do I need to get up and running?
After you enroll, we will guide you step-by-step through the process of getting ready for virtual classes. We provide a range of support options including via webinars, phone, email, chat and even (with parents permission) configuration of your computer remotely by our staff. So, for now, there is nothing you need to do.
If you would like to plan ahead, here is what you’ll need:
- Computer with microphone, speakers and internet. If you have used your computer for webex, facetime, or used the audio collaboration features in Fortnite or Minecraft you’re probably all set. A more detailed technical spec is available here. Chromebooks and tablets will not work.
- Zoom. You can download the free Zoom application here. Even if you already have Zoom installed, we recommend creating a new free account for your child.
- TalentBox. Empow’s online curriculum and learning management system, Talent Box, is accessible and fully functional on any web browser. We will provide a log-in after you enroll.
- Application software. Empow teaches its students to code, create movies, build video games, architect buildings, design in Minecraft and more in industry-standard software. Of the 29 applications we teach, 22 are available for free, 2 additional ones have lengthy free trials, and only five require low-cost purchase. The software we teach is described in each topic description. A complete list is available here.
- Robotics kits and other supplies. When you enroll in a particular class, we will clearly identify if additional, course-specific supplies are needed, and provide clear instructions on where and how to purchase them.
- +How long do classes last? Are you planning to continue to offer them after the Coronavirus situation passes?
When you enroll, you sign up for a 4-week long session. We will automatically renew your participation every 4 weeks, though you can let us know 14 days in advance and will not do so. Classes start every two hours (ET at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm and PT at 6am, 8am, 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm.) Each time a class meets, it gets together for just under two hours so our instructors and students can transition from one class to the next. We continue to monitor news about COVID-19 and, as you might imagine, are in touch with a wide variety of government and educational institutions. We expect that many school systems will be closed for the rest of the academic year. Summer is actually our busiest season, and while we hope to run our full in-person summer camps as planned, we are preparing to offer virtual camps. When schools restart, we anticipate that the result will be ending most of our virtual classes, transitioning most students to our various in-person programs, and providing refunds for any virtual classes that we have ceased to deliver. A noteworthy number of our students have been so excited about their live virtual classes that we anticipate that we will continue to offer. Foremost for us is providing our students and parents with an amazing experience, and continuing to adjust to your needs as circumstances change.
- +How is this different from the many free and low-cost programs available?
We believe that the right solution for you and your child may very well include a mix of resources. There are many great free programs, such as those from Khan Academy, which we encourage you to investigate. Unlike such alternatives, we provide live instructors, in small classes, and an environment that enables students to socialize and collaborate. The result is students reliably staying engaged and on-task, and parents enjoying a vital respite from interruptions.
- +My child doesn’t know anything about the program topic. Is that a problem?
Our programs list whether or not prerequisites or previous experience is required. Most programs assume zero experience and still are able to provide more than enough depth to challenge those with prior knowledge.
- +Can I sign up my child for more than one class?
Yes. You can sign up for any mix of programs. There is more than enough content to keep students learning and never bored whether you sign up for the same topic for more hours, or a wide range of topics.
- +Can I switch classes after I have enrolled?
Absolutely. If there is a space available at a better time or in a different more suitable program, we are happy to switch you. If you transfer into a more expensive program, we will make the appropriate pro rata credit and price adjustments with no switching fees.
- +Can I cancel after classes have begun?
We can cancel your automatic renewal with 14 days advance notice. If it is within that window, we are happy to cancel your payment if we are able to fill your space from our waiting list. If we cancel our live virtual classes — which we anticipate will happen for the most part when schools start up again — we expect that we will refund fees for classes we do not provide and offer transitions into live, in-person programs to those that want that option.