Concordia University Wisconsin Computer Science Tech Camp unleashes children’s creativity

While many people are getting caught up in the Pokemon Go craze sweeping the country in search of cartoon characters, including here on campus, 39 youths attended Concordia University Wisconsin’s inaugural Computer Science Tech Camp last week.

The three-day camp was coordinated by Assistant Professor Antoinette Spencer, who additionally served as lead instructor of “Little Bits Tech” for 24 youngsters in grades 3-5.  Assistant Professor Joshua Locklair led “Robotics” for grades 6-8, while Dr. Michael Litman taught “IOS Apps” for several high school students.  “The idea of our Tech Camp stemmed from a driving need to show children that technology is a tool they can use to be creative and solve problems,” said Spencer.  “Each camp was designed to teach aspects of technology in a hands-on, fun way,” she added.

Parents were already asking directors about dates for next year according to Dr. Gary Locklair, a Concordia University Wisconsin professor since 1986 who presented a micro-computing workshop.  “One parent was so impressed not only with the content and the enjoyment her daughter received,” said Locklair, “but the modest cost compared to summer computer camps offered by two large urban universities.”  One camper said she couldn’t wait to go next year, while another indicated the best part was meeting people and working with them.

Not only did attendees gain a better understanding of how computers function during their time on campus, middle school students had an opportunity to design, build, program and test robots for games and useful tasks, using Ozobots and Lego Mindstorms. High school students learned techniques for making their own app, utilizing development tools available so they can learn all summer.  Knowledge gained in this camp directly translated into android development, so even those without iOS devices could benefit.

“The kids loved learning new things and they became excited when they were able to change the color of lights on a bit, instruct a robot to capture a small cube, or learn a new programming language,” noted Spencer.  “I honestly believe some of the parents were more excited than their children,” added Spencer, who stressed that one of the most important goals was for children to understand that technology is not just something they play with.

For more information on next year’s camp dates or the content of this year’s camp, please e-mail Antoinette Spencer at Antoinette.spencer@cuw.edu, or visit http://www.cs.cuw.edu/2016-summer-tech-camp/.