Technology camps at Penn State encourage students’ interest in IST

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Four camps being offered this summer at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) through the iTech Academy program are providing area youth the opportunity to learn new technology, have fun and gain an understanding of what IST has to offer.

Three of the camps -- "Animation, Gaming, Robotics and more!," "Cyber Security" and "Web Design Made Easy" -- are open to all students going into grades 9 through 12. A fourth camp, "Girlz Digital World: Join Roxie the Robot in a Deep Space Adventure," is designed exclusively for young women, and is open to females entering the 6th, 7th, or 8th grades.

According to Moradeyo Olorunnisola, director of recruiting at IST, the summer camps provide an opportunity for young students to learn about technology and the College of IST in a fun, supportive environment. “Many in our community and beyond don’t know what IST is all about,” Olorunnisola said, “so the primary goal of the camp is to give students a taste of what we do in IST.”

In "Animation, Gaming, Robotics and more!" students learn how to create animations with Scratch, make computer games with Processing 2.0 and program robots to move. “The camp is also designed to introduce some complicated concepts in a fun and project based approach,” said Peggy Fisher, instructional designer for the College of IST, and instructor at the camps.

In the "Cyber Security" camp, participants learn about information assurance, intelligence analysis and cyber forensics. Students work with hands-on labs to learn about cyber-attacks and how to prevent them. In "Web Design Made Easy," students design and create animations, videos, blogs and other media for the Web.

The camp, "Girlz Digital World: Join Roxie the Robot in a Deep Space Adventure," is designed to encourage young women to think critically and effectively while gaining the confidence to share their thoughts and ideas which, according to Olivia Lewis, coordinator of multicultural affairs in the College of IST, is of particular relevance in today’s world of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, and the wage gap in the American workforce, where -- according to a White House report -- a woman earns, on average, only 77 cents per every dollar earned by a man.

“Research continues to show that middle school is the point at which females begin to remove themselves from the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects," Lewis said. "They are as capable as middle-school boys, however society does not nurture the development of young females as scientists, engineers or in the field of technology. Creating a single-gender environment empowers those young ladies to express themselves both intellectually and creatively without the pressure of impressing young males."

Speaking of the student experience at the camps, Olorunnisola said, “I hope at the end of the week that they will have made new friends or deepened existing friendships and gained a better understanding of themselves, and that they will feel even more empowered to harness the technology tools around them.”

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Last Updated July 18, 2014