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Campers Put Focus On Computer Skills

Four-Week Program Provides Literacy And Research Training

July 25, 2005
By MELISSA PIONZIO, Courant Staff Writer

Expertly switching from one computer screen to the next, 11-year-old Vidalys Traberzo proudly shared her summer camp presentation on dinosaurs in which she described their habitat, eating habits, size and behavior.

The project was fun and educational, she said, and after she finished it, Vidalys, a sixth-grader, could focus on more important things ... like fashion.

"I finished my whole entire project and now I get to play games," she said as she selected the hair color (brown) and eye shade (purple) for a cartoon model in a computer game called "London Suite Styler" by Disney.

Vidalys is one of 25 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from the city's SAND and Barnard-Brown elementary schools who are participating in a free, four-week computer camp at Rensselaer at Hartford on Windsor Street.

The camp, in its 25th year, is designed to increase computer literacy and research skills through hands-on computer training with a focus on language arts, reading, writing and mathematics. Campers created their own web pages and could create links from their home pages to other websites. The camp ends Friday with a graduation ceremony. Vidalys, who attends Barnard-Brown, said the camp held her interest while improving her computer skills.

"I learned how to type really fast, like 60 words a minute," she said.

The camp consists of all-day and half-day campers who have shown an interest in computers. Those who attend all-day are primarily sixth-graders who have met all their Connecticut Mastery Test goals; while others, mostly fourth- and fifth-graders, attend summer school at SAND or Barnard-Brown in the morning and the camp in the afternoon.

"I like when the kids are involved in learning how to use the computers, the typing and the research," said camp coordinator Agnes Black. "They actually see an end product."

When they were not busy at their computers, the campers participated in weekly visits to the Mystic Aquarium Education Center on Main Street, where they handled sea creatures and learned about the creatures' behaviors and habitats.

"I got to pick up a horseshoe crab, some periwinkles and we got to learn about jellyfish," said Eric Bentancourt, a fifth-grader at Barnard-Brown, who said his favorite activities at the camp are "all of them."

Camp taught 11-year-old Ruth Correa proper computer techniques and how to handle a squid so it doesn't squirt ink. The sixth grader, who attends SAND Elementary, also discovered that the youngsters who attend Barnard-Brown are nice and make good friends.

"During recess, we play all types of games and sometimes we make our own. During lunch, we talk a lot," Ruth said. "It's hard because sometimes people say things about a school, but it doesn't matter what school you go to."

Other field trips included visits to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, mini golfing, Nature's Art in Wallingford and the Peabody Museum in New Haven. Campers also learned about black inventors and their many contributions through educational programs and exhibits provided by representatives from the Museum of Black Innovations & Inventions in New York City.

In addition to Black, camp counselors included Felix Gonzalez, a bilingual teacher at Barnard-Brown; and Jeffrey Parks, who teaches writing at SAND. Students from Rensselaer's Troy, N.Y., campus were also on hand to help out. Rodriguez, who has been a counselor at the camp for five years, said he was pleased to see how computer-savvy the campers were this year. In addition to learning more about technology, the camp allows the children to move outside their neighborhoods a bit and get to know one another, he said.

"It's great," said Rodriguez. "They will come back after the weekend all excited because they saw each other downtown."

Corporate sponsors for the camp include the Aetna Foundation, the Bank of America Foundation and the Ensworth Charitable Foundation.

Also, Bank of America, Trustee; the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; the George and Grace L. Long Foundation; and Webster Bank.

For more information, call 860-548-7894.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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