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‘A drastic change’ » At Geek Squad Academy, Arissa and her team quickly reprogrammed their robot with LEGO Mindstorms software and corrected its route.
She likes working in a group, she said, because "we get to share each other’s ideas and new ideas can come from those. We have a better chance of figuring it out."
It’s not too lateThe Graphics and Robotic Exploration with Amazing Technology (GREAT) camps at the University of Utah have a few classes left in beginning and advanced Scratch, a computer programming language. The classes start Monday. There’s also a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) course the same week, teaching students about the techniques of robotics to prepare them for the annual FLL competition.
More information is available from Dave Johnson at 801-585-1726.
The University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering department has one game design class beginning Aug. 4 with slots still open. Students ages 14 to 16 spend a week learning to program video games. The program is designed so that each student walks away with his or her own game.
Youth Education at the U. also offers tech camps in August; learn more at https://continue.utah.edu/youth.
She was one of 49 girls and almost 100 boys at the academy, sponsored by the nonprofit Junior Achievement of Utah at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum. Because the program is trying to spark girls’ interest in technology, all the girls on the wait list were admitted, said Becky Harding, of Junior Achievement.
Students ages 9 to 14 learned about robotics, 3-D imaging and printing, digital music and film and digital responsibility. Arissa, of South Jordan, said she enjoyed learning about 3-D imaging and robots. "It’s so cool to learn you can program robots to do what you want."
Becky Ruff, a parent volunteer at the academy, said she encourages her daughters, ages 11, 10 and 8, and other girls to study technology, make mistakes and show off their smarts.
"As these girls mature, they feel like their role has to change," the Lehi mother of three said. "They have to be the cute, silly girl versus the smart, awesome girl."
To help fight peer pressure, the academy separated the campers into two groups of girls and three groups of boys, Ruff said. "It takes a lot to change social pressure," she said. "There are these social norms that girls aren’t programmers."
Ruff said all three of her daughters will attend Geek Academy next summer, in part because at $55 per child, it’s one of the least expensive camps around.
The Entertainment Arts and Engineering course is one of the more expensive — $374. Most GREAT camp classes at the University of Utah range from $135 for elementary-age children to $220 for middle school and high school students.
National Geek Squad Academy agent Brittani Uribe cites herself as a success story for the program, which she first attended when she was 17. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in communications and has been a Geek Squad agent with Best Buy for three years.
"You can see a drastic change" in girls who attend, she said while working at the Salt Lake City academy. "When they come in, the girls seem disinterested, and at the end, little girls come to me and say, ‘I want to be a Geek Squad agent.’ "
She added, "My message to these girls is that you can do whatever you want.
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