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GAVC camp teaches kids technology, multimediaGetting Comfortable

Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
Nolan O’Keefe, of Coal City Middle School, listens to instructions while building a computer during the Grundy Area Vocational Center's summer technology camp.

A summer staple for technology-curious middle school students, Grundy Area Vocational Center’s technology camp made some changes for its ninth year.

Previously called the GAVC Technology Camp, this summer’s program was renamed GAVC Technology and Multimedia Camp with the addition of GAVC’s multimedia and graphics teacher, Joe Terrel.

Coal City Middle School seventh-grader Nolan O’Keefe said he enjoyed the camp.

“It sounded like fun,” he said of why he signed up for it. “I like doing stuff with the computer. ... It was fun to put one together.”

Nolan said he is considering a career in technology. It’s important for students to learn as much about technology as they can while they’re in school, he said, as it will help them adjust to even more advanced technology in the future.

Nolan’s camp class got to assemble computers from their parts, make networking cables, then connect their computers together to form a little network.

GAVC computer maintenance instructor Leanne Dammann began the summer camp in 2004 as a way to interest young women in the field of technology. It turned co-ed in 2008 from the demands of several young men, she said with a laugh.

“I think some of these kids were looking for something to do in the summer,” Dammann said. “Others were very interested in technology. ... Over the years, I think it has made kids more comfortable with technology, and by the time they reach high school, they’ve got a good idea of at least the foundations.”

The camp was open to fifth- through ninth-graders at all GAVC feeder schools. The students who participated this summer were from Saratoga School, Shabbona Middle School Coal City Middle School, and Morris Community High School.

The camp changes a bit each summer, but building the computers and network cables have been the constant.

The campers also used to learn how to solder and design a Web page, and the last camp had a business component. This summer, a new addition was the photo and video editing projects.

Students made several music videos of themselves using a green screen background. One song was “Surfin’ USA.” The campers used the green screen technology to put waves behind them.

On the last day of the camp, parents came in to see the various projects the students had done that week, including their videos.

“Kids today do actually know more (about technology) than most of us,” Dammann said. “They are inundated with it from the day they were born. But they also need to learn it in a classroom setting – how to maintain and do preventative maintenance and repair work and how to solve problems. Those kinds of things are not as intuitive as just using the devices.”

Dammann said there may be a follow-up camp next summer for the students who participated this year, in addition to another camp for first-timers.

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