Campers grades 5-8 got a chance to work with a variety of technology
The mission of the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering is to inspire students and provide them with the opportunity to explore the limits of technology to solve problems.
That mission isn’t limited to college students.
SICE welcomed 44 students from grades 5-8 to the 2019 Engineering Tomorrow Summer Camp June 10-14, showcasing some of the aspects of intelligent systems engineering and providing campers the chance to learn and interact with electronics, the fabrication process, computer programming, and virtual reality. Campers received an introduction to each area before ranking their areas of interest and working on projects.
“Our campers really showed a lot of enthusiasm throughout the week,” said Kelly Nelson, the director of ISE student services and curriculum at SICE and one of the directors of the camp. “They really enjoyed the variety of activities at the camp, and our content leads for each area spent weeks preparing just the right balance of STEM content and fun while also providing time for campers to explore and engage in discovery with the projects.”
Campers used virtual reality hardware to explore digital environments, and they programmed Raspberry Pis that controlled robotic cars. They also made wearable technology that integrated lights, worked with internet servers, and programmed and used 3D printers and laser cutters.
“I like fabrication,” said 11-year-old Maggie Allen. “I love designing things and seeing how they turn out. We used different platforms for the printers, and I hadn’t really done that before. It was a lot of fun, and it’s fun when you’re doing something you like.”
Aden Papier, an 11-year-old from Bloomington, was excited to work with counselors who would show him how to use the technology and also give him the opportunity to explore the tech on his own.
“I’m really interested in technology,” Papier said. “I’m a nerd-slash-geek, and my room at home is filled with old computers and phones. I’m really interested in that stuff. My parents aren’t tech specialists at the level of the counselors, and I really appreciate all the help I’ve received here. I feel like I can expand my horizon and express myself.”
The variety of the projects kept Papier engaged.
“My first pick was the electronics section, but then I found I liked the programming the best,” Papier said. “Programming is like speaking a language. Code is like learning another language that you’re going to need at some point if you every try to do something with computers, and I’m so grateful for the chance to work with people who can help me understand things while also making some new friends.
Counselors at the camp came from a variety of backgrounds and ages, allowing campers to be mentored by someone at nearly every skill level.
“It’s great to see varying levels of individuals work together,” Nelson said. “Our campers were grades 5 through 8, and we had counselors from area high school robotics teams, Project STEM high school students, ISE undergraduates, ISE Ph.D. students, and ISE faculty. It’s rare, and inspiring, to see a cross-section like this. We all know how critical it is to introduce STEM at a young age, and it was inspiring to see the older students and faculty commit to guiding the younger students. Everyone had such a passion for engineering. It was great to see, and we love the energy they brought to Luddy Hall.”