Students click and create
Sunday, July 7, 2002
Computer camp at SHU focuses on Net, technology
LINDA CONNER LAMBECK firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Eick, 11, of Fairfield, is building intricate mazes and plotting
ways to kill the bad guys.
"It's actually easier than I thought,"
said Eick, reluctant to take his eye off the computer screen where
he is creating a new game to answer questions.
Such is the summer
life of a future genetic scientist, who has a solid week to click
and create at iD Tech Camps, a private, California-based computer
camp being run at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.
camps aren't new.
National Computer Camps,
an Orange, CT based program sharing the same Fairfield campus as the
one Eick is at, has been around since the late 1970s when personal
computers were a novelty and floppy disks were the way information
traveled between hard drives.
In today's high-speed, digital
age, however, in which PCs are nearly as common as TVs, and as likely
to be used to create as communicate, computer camps are no longer
havens for geeks and nerds who want to hide from the sun.
for the American Camping Association say computer camps are one
of the fastest growing summer activities.
ID Tech Camps, in existence
for four years, will play host this summer to about 5,000 campers
at 27 locations across the country, including Sacred Heart and the
University of Connecticut, said Karen Thurm Safran, vice president
of marketing for iD Tech Camps .
Computer Camps, located in four states, will host about 1,000
campers, said director Michael Zabinski, Ph.D., a Fairfield University
Both run their programs in five to six
single week intervals and offer students day and sleep- away options.
"Even in this economy, business is booming," said Safran. "I think
it's because this is such a digital generation. Computers now are
so accessible you really get a wide variety of kids who want to
go to technology camp."
Most who spend a week building their
own Web pages or creating digital movies in the air-conditioned
confines of Sacred Heart's East Hall, will spend other weeks horseback
riding, playing soccer or trying out for lead roles in theater camp.
This week, however, was reserved for cyber space.
In Web Design
and Graphics, Dipen Shah, a 22-year-old graduate student at the
University of Connecticut, taught students a long list of computer
commands that allowed them to create their own Web-pages.
was trying to do a Web page for myself at home and I wasn't really
getting it," said Leila Jones, 16, of Guilford, who created a site
on emergency medicine. She plans to use her new skills to help her
school build a better Web site.
"What do I know now that I didn't
know Monday? Everything about HTML," said Yesha Doshi, 12, of Orange,
busy adding borders and links to a Boy Meets World fan club Web
page she created.
"When I was their age, I had no idea what HTML
was," said Shah of hypertext markup language, the basic tongue of
the World Wide Web. "What they're learning are the basic concepts
for programming. It's a lot of codes but once they get used to it,
it all makes sense."
In Digital Video & Movie Production
camp at Sacred Heart, meanwhile, three would-be filmmakers were
three days into creating a five-minute live action movie from scratch.
By Wednesday the script was written, the video shot and they were
halfway through editing their footage.
except the cut between shots. You don't see the end of my running,"
said Derick Kitson, 13 of Easton, scrolling through frames of the
digital image with his mouse.
"We can fix that," said Justin
Fletchall, 13, leaning over his shoulder.
"Have I showed you
how to use the razor blade yet," asked instructor Leah Dixon, pointing
to an icon in the upper corner of the computer screen that will
help them edit on-screen images.
In this class, everyone had
time in front of and behind the camera and at the editing station,
set up on the third floor of East Hall. By Friday, they will have
added sound and have a completed "movie" using computer software
many independent filmmakers now use.
"Every now and again, I
step in to give technical suggestions or ideas about camera placement
but 99 percent of what you see is all these guys," said Dixon, 29,
a college student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, who discovered
years ago a computer "is a great art tool."
In game-making, the
most popular of the classes, 11 students are all working independently.
"There's all these rules you have to make for the game. Like 60
or 70 rules to make the game work right," said Alex Puleo, 14 of
Fairfield, trying to create a "Super Mario 3." "I thought it would
be easy. I was wrong."
"This guy just won't die when I want him
to," said a frustrated Liam Cosgrove, 11, of Fairfield, who has
kinks to work out in his unnamed game.
Using a special software,
instructors Michele Jarvais, a University of Maine student, and
Joni Halbi, a student at Rensselar Polytechnic Institute in Troy,
N.Y., teach the class how to create trapdoors, insert sound effects
and make their characters move.
They'd learn even more, Jarvais
said, if they follow up this class with another on programming.
Across campus, at National Computer Camp,
where there are 70 students between the ages of 8 and 18, Zabinski
said it has never been hard to turn kids onto computers.
interest and motivation is pretty much the same," he said. What
has changed since 1977 when we first started is the technology itself
and the languages.
Only five years ago, Zabinski was teaching
students a computer language called Pascal. The computer languages
du jour are C++ and Java. Kids today also want to learn applications
such as Flash, which is used to animate graphics for the internet.
"Not the type of thing they're going to teach you in school," said
Zabinski, adding his camp's been around so long, most of his staff
National Computer Camp has weeklong sessions
through July at Sacred Heart University. For information call 203-396-6544
or visit www.NCCamp.com.