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5th-8th grade girls tech camp coming late July

Christina King

MARQUETTE — For the first time, the girls’ technology-focused summer program called Camp Infinity comes to the Upper Peninsula.

The camp director, Christina King, is a kindergarten teacher at Aspen Ridge Elementary School and a coach for FIRST LEGO League, a competitive robotics tournament for kids.

King described the demographic for Camp Infinity as girls entering grades 5-8 in the upcoming fall semester who have an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly known as STEM.

Camp Infinity is a week-long series of sessions that introduce young girls to the opportunities and appeal of STEM fields through hands-on activities.

With the guidance of expert instructors, attendees will participate in a range of activities designed to spark their imagination and creativity.

“We (will) have women come in from the engineering fields to talk to the girls about their careers and about their obstacles and what they had to do with the hope that they are inspired to move onto careers in this field,” King said.

Fifth and sixth-grade girls will program robots, create animation and make simple games using a free, block-based programming language called Scratch.

Campers in the seventh and eighth grades will build fully functional apps with the online MIT App Inventor program, another entry-level programming tool. They will also enhance their critical thinking and problem-solving skills while physically building and programming Lego SPIKE Prime robots through programs like Scratch.

Students will also participate in mini-sessions that highlight the real-world uses of technology.

These programmable Lego robots are similar to what King and her students use in the FIRST LEGO League. Within that realm, she’s made an observation.

“Most of the kids interested in things like the FIRST LEGO League are typically boys,” she said, “and girls kind of lose interest (as) they get older … I often saw that the girls were interested but then they would be a little bit more quiet about their ideas. They were often bombarded and the boys would take over.”

King said that bombardment is the exact reason why it’s important to have a supportive environment for these young girls to express themselves and explore their interests among other girls and women.

If girls should find that they enjoy STEM-oriented activities, classes or lessons, King said she hopes they can “channel that focus and that energy and that love of learning into some other opportunities for them” through higher education.

Camp Infinity is a statewide program put on by the Michigan Council of Women in Technology, an organization that supports and inspires women and girls to go into male-dominated STEM fields.

Camp Infinity at NMU will take place at the Seaborg Mathematics & Science Center from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, July 22 through Friday, July 26.

Registration is available on the website. To attend, there is a $100 fee that covers the camp activities, meals and t-shirts a student participates in. Information about scholarships for Camp Infinity is also available on the website.

More information can be found at mcwt.org by clicking “Get Involved” then “Programs” then “K-12 initiatives” and finally selecting “Camp Infinity.”

Alexandria Bournonville can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 506. Her email address is abournonville@miningjournal.net.

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