Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Federal Hill Tech Center Launches Summer Camp

City Council President Young (center) and 
Digital Harbor Foundation Co-Executive Director 
Andrew Coy (right) watch as a student uses a 3D printer
 at the new Digital Harbor Tech Center. 
Photo courtesy of Council President Young's office.
Federal Hill’s Digital Harbor Tech Center will launch its first ever Summer Maker Camp, in partnership with the non-profit The Maker Education Initiative and with support from its founding sponsors Pixar Animation Studios, Intel, O’Reilly Media, and Cognizant (an information technology firm).

This unique program, comprised of four 2-week long sessions, will focus on engaging children ages 7 - 17 with technological innovation through hands-on exploration and mentorship. The mission is “to create more opportunities for young people to make, and, by making, build confidence, foster creativity, and spark interest in science, technology, engineering, math, the arts and learning as a whole,” according to their website.

Director of Curriculum Stephanie Grimes says the students that have already been through the school-year program (formerly Rech2Tech) have helped build what will be the new summer camp, literally helping mentors paint and renovate the facility, which is now equipped with a sound studio where students will learn about audio production. “We’re learning a lot from them. Hopefully they’re learning a lot from us,” she says.

The first summer session, “Circuit Adventures,” runs June 17-28 and teaches students how to create lamps, flying propellers, moving motors and musical projects through hands-on activities. “Digital Design & Fabrication” (July 8-19) will explore 3D design composition through use of legos and vinyl with the advanced technology of 3D printers.

During “Game Development,” July 22 - August 2, tech couches will teach kids how to develop their own digital game. “Aerial Pursuits,” the last camp session ending on August 16, will guide students through the exploration of flight as they learn about rocketry, paper planes and remote controlled aircrafts.

“We’re hoping to be able to carry these themes into the fall,” says Stephanie, “sort of that hands-on, immersive exploration.”

Each two-week Summer Maker Camp session has 20 spots, and although there is a fee, scholarship aid is available for those students who qualify.

“We’re agile enough that we can pivot with them, and we work hard to get the funding, tools, and resources they need,” says Stephanie. “For example, one of the kids broke their headphones, and they were like, ‘I can’t afford new headphones, I need to fix these,’ and we’re like, ‘here’s a soldering iron, fix them.’”

Briana Lopes, Intern

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