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