Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Camp bridges technology gap

August 2, 2001
Cal Reinbold, 14, of Detroit, celebrates after scoring a goal during a mock trial of his Lego soccer robot. Reinbold is part of Kids Learning in Computer Klubhouses and hopes for a chance to compete against 100 other kids from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at McDonel Hall. —

Michigan area middle-schoolers have been trying their hands at new technology during the third annual Kids Learning In Computer Klubhouses, or KLICK, Leadership Camp, held on MSU’s campus this week.

The KLICK program is an after-school program designed to teach middle-schoolers of low economic backgrounds or communities how to use new technology. The program was designed by educational technology Professor Yong Zhao.

“In my research I have found that classroom usage of computers has not been that useful at teaching children about new technology,” Zhao said. “The after-school program was designed to teach students how to solve problems and build their self-esteem, while motivating them to learn about new technology.”

The 100 students participating in the leadership camp were top students in their after-school programs.

“We allow each of the 20 sites to bring five kids to camp,” said Lisa Roy, KLICK project coordinator.

Students were able to choose from six classes according to their personal preference. Those classes were: 3-D Modeling, Final Cut Pro, Flash and digital animation, Web page editing, basic robotics and advanced robotics.

“The students actually learn how to make movies, build robots and do animation while at camp,” Roy said.

Two students from each class will get to compete for ribbons in the camp’s Grand Finale on Friday. Roy said they will get to show off their projects and the skills learned this week.

“We hope that these students will take what they learn this week back to their school and teach their peers,” Roy said.

The program also encourages KLICK alumni to come back and assist with the leadership camp.

“All of our students love the program,” said Blaine Morrow, another KLICK coordinator. “We invited 10 junior counselors back to serve as leaders and help the students at camp.”

Zhao said many of the students who participate in KLICK develop desires to become engineers, or work in multimedia production. He said he has also noticed the increased confidence in many of the students.

“Some of our students know more than their teachers, and are able to share with them about using certain software,” Zhao said.

Zhao said the program is excellent for bridging the technology literacy gap in inner-city districts. He said many schools lack the knowledge needed to teach students about the ever-evolving technology.

“The problem is not the funding for new technology, it’s the expertise,” Zhao said. “MSU has the resources and the expertise needed to help these students become knowledgeable and competent in technology.”

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