Lansing area youth explore technology at ITEC / Impression 5 camp

The Information Technology Empowerment Center (ITEC) of Lansing and Impression 5 Science Center organized two technology camps for youth in grades 7 – 9 this summer. Participants spend five days exploring robotics, geocaching, computer animation, and water quality analysis. TechSmith Corporation is sponsoring the camps.

The first camp was held June 22-26 in Lansing. The second camp will take place August 3-5, 2009. George Stockman, professor of computer science and engineering, is an instructor.

The following article from the Lansing State Journal describes the event.

Impression 5 camp lets kids go techno for week

Computer programs, robotics may inspire future career choices

Melissa Domsic • • June 24, 2009 • From Lansing State Journal

For 11-year-old Loren Todd, a fun summer vacation involves computer programming and building robots.

Loren, of East Lansing, joined more than a dozen 7th-, 8th- and 9th-graders at Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing this week for a technology camp.

Okemos-based TechSmith Corp. funded the camp. The Information Technology Empowerment Center of Lansing, or ITEC, provided instructors.

On Monday, the first day of camp, Loren created a zombie cat character for a computer program.

"I just thought it'd be interesting to have a camp that's all about science and making stuff with computers and building robots with LEGOS," Loren said. "I thought it would be kind of interesting to have all those different activities, as opposed to just sitting around the house all day or going to some more boring camp."

TechSmith is offering a $250,000 grant to Impression 5 and ITEC over five years for the summer camps, courses, exhibits and technology upgrades.

TechSmith employs about 200 people in Okemos. The company develops screen capture and recording software.

"Our motivation was to do something that would affect the future of technology workers in the region," said Jennifer Middlin, TechSmith spokeswoman. "As one of those employers, we want to make sure there's a future generation of people inspired to work in technology."

Impression 5 used some of the money this year to install wireless Internet and plans more technology upgrades. ITEC will hold two one-week camps this summer. Plans for the next four years are up in the air.

Several of the students at this week's camp are H.O.P.E. scholars - part of a program for at-risk students that gives them two years of free tuition and books at Lansing Community College as long as they graduate from high school or earn a G.E.D.

Michigan is losing many of its graduates in technical careers to other states, leaving a strong demand in this area, said Kirk Riley, executive director of ITEC.

There were 300 openings in greater Lansing for information technology jobs in December 2008, he said.

ITEC strives to dispel the stereotype that technology is just for geeks and works to get students hooked early on.

"We want to give students a passion for science and technology," Riley said. "Kids play video games. Do they have any idea what sits behind that video game? No. There are very creative and simple ways that middle-schoolers can do those things."

Students will dive into information technology through Scratch, a computer programming application that allows younger students to create their own animations and video games. They'll also use LEGO robotics and go geocaching, a high-tech treasure hunt with GPS devices.

Instructor and camp participants

Taking a look: Adam Ford (left), a tech specialist at Wood Creek Elementary School, works with Austin Rosenquist, 13, of Lansing and a LEGO robot Rosenquist built and programmed at the technology camp at Impression 5 Science Center.

MATTHEW DAE SMITH/For the Lansing State Journal)

Loren Todd designs lego robot at ITEC camp

Matthew Dae Smith/For the Lansing State Journal

Robot's run: Loren Todd, 11, of East Lansing builds a LEGO robot during a technology camp at Impression 5. He programs the robot with a computer and tests his programming skills by running the robot through an obstacle course.

Using GPS technology at technology camp

Gotta find it: Hai Nguyen (right), 14, and Kong Moun, 14, both of Lansing view a GPS receiver Tuesday during a technology camp at Impression 5 Science Center. Nguyen and Moun were geocaching - finding hidden items using GPS technology.

How to go

  • What: Summer technology camp for students entering 7th, 8th and 9th grades.

  • Who: The program is a partnership between TechSmith Corp., The Information Technology Empowerment Center of Lansing and Impression 5 Science Center

  • When: This week and August 3-7 (spots are still open for August)

  • Where: Impression 5 Science Center, 200 Museum Drive, Lansing

  • Cost: $20, refundable after camp is completed

  • More information: Call Impression 5 at 485-8116, ext. 32

(Date Posted: 2009-06-29)