A World Bridge® at the Northern Academy Summer Camp

Projects Developed by Trillium Learning

Welcome to Northern Academy's Summer Computer Programming course, offered via the A World Bridge® (AWB) Program that uses innovative teaching methods.

AWB courses incorporate real-time, real-world projects with industry and government organizations, such as NASA and the United Nations (UN). The AWB program at Northern Academy is developed and sponsored by Trillium Learning.

Northern Academy offers a unique – one-of-a-kind experience for summer campers – the A World Bridge ® international award-winning program developed by Trillium Learning. The program consists of three integrated activities for campers:

  • Coding on the NASA WorldWind Platform
  • Hands-on experimentation with electrical circuits training
  • Hands-on learning of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones) with high-definition cameras, and learn how to take aerial photography and mapping

The summer program is managed by Professor Ron Fortunato, NASA Space Ambassador for the United States, and co-taught  by technical expert Mr. Anson Zhao.


In 2018 summer, Northern Academy's AWB students were selected as finalists for the World Challenge held in Helsinki, Finland. Our finalists were awarded a trip to Finland to receive 4th and 5th place trophies for the innovative ideas and solutions AWB proposed to solve global problems. The Northern Academy AWB program was the only high school selected to enter this international competition. Click HERE to learn more about Northern’s awards and recognition.

Q1: What computer languages are taught?

A1: We teach web programming with JavaScript/CSS/HTML.

Q2: What are the differences between your computer programming class and others?

A2: The AWB program utilizes advanced real-world, project-based learning methods to accelerate students’ skills development. The traditional form of teaching programming is to have students learn by listening to lectures, taking notes, memorizing knowledge points, and completing programming challenges.

Trillium Learning’s AWB program utilized at Northern developed a learning method that accelerates achievement. Students experience short lecture times, and extend practice time, to help them achieve more, and quickly build on these achievements. The more performance, the more fun one experiences, and the more confident the student becomes.
(See Q3 below for more detail about our quick achievement teaching approach).

Another difference is how Trillium designs curriculum. Typically, the teacher would use a syllabus and modules to teach programming. We tailor our topics/units for an outcome, a curriculum more task-oriented and project-based.

Usually, teaching programming’s key objective is to assist students in mastering a computer language’s concept in theory. Our objective is to assist students in developing practical problem-solving skills by working on real-time, real-world projects in teaching programming.

AWB utilizes the NASA WorldWind 3D data visualization platform, which offers students the opportunity to apply these skills directly to real-world projects.

Q3: What do students do in daily programming class?

A3: There are two different phases to our programming class: Building a foundation and Real-time project application.

In the first phase (building a foundation), we provide short learning tutorials that include working through small challenges and projects to help students establish problem-solving strategies. We use Khan Academy as a learning platform for this.

In the second phase, students are taught how to use a professional programming tool to do coding on the NASA WorldWind 3D platform to complete their final tasks.

Q4: How do you deal with different student levels and experience in one class?

A4: The AWB computer programming curriculum is designed to accommodate students on three different levels, starting with no experience. Each level has dedicated lectures, challenges, projects, and tasks. For those students at similar levels, our learning platform can adjust the pace for each student.

Q5: Who can join this programming class?

A5: Students must be entering Grade 8 or above to be accepted. No previous programming experience is required.

Q6: What can students expect by the end of the class?

A6: As described in Q4, the AWB computer programming curriculum is deigned for three different levels. At each individual level there are final tasks to be completed. By the end of the class, students are expected to:

  •     Have a solid foundation in JavaScript
  •     Be able to develop problem-solving strategies
  •     Be able to complete all final tasks within NASA/UN real-time projects
  •     Develop enthusiasm and a keen interest in programming

Q7: What is the teacher’s background?

A7: Mr. Anson Zhao has more than 25 years of experience in IT and is a trained instructor by Trillium Learning in the A World Bridge® teaching methods. He has taught AWB computer programming at Northern for five years.

Q8: What do I need to prepare for this class?

A8: You need to have a computer (Windows/MacOS), a headset (Microphone and Speaker), and an Internet connection. Technical support is available from the AWB instructor.