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Technology camp gets local students comfortable with cameras, computers

August 11, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Is it education or is it fun?

A group of Calipatria kids could not differentiate between the two at one of this summer's multiple technology camps sponsored by the California Student Opportunity Access Program.

Seven Calipatria kids worked with digital cameras and computers to create slide shows on laptop computers Friday.

"It's pretty cool," said 10-year-old Renny Verdugo as he viewed on a computer screen one of the digital photographs he took earlier.

Renny, about to start fifth grade at Bill E. Young Middle School here, looked at an off-center close-up picture of his own face and eye.

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Photography skills weren't the focus of this two- to three- hour technology camp. The immediate goal, explained instructor Mike Castillo, is to teach the kids how to use the digital cameras and the computer program that will turn their photos into a slide show.

The larger and more important goal is to "help them become more comfortable with the technology and to become technologically proficient," Castillo said.

Not only do CalSOAP's summer technology camps want to get kids ready for the 21st century, the program aims to prepare fifth- through ninth-graders for high school and college, Castillo said.

Throughout the summer, CalSOAP and Imperial County Office of Education's Desert Without Borders program have conducted technology camps all over Imperial Valley to teach kids about things such as desktop publishing, video production and editing and how to conduct online research.

The camps are at different sites around the Imperial Valley, such as city libraries. Sometimes, like Friday, the ICOE mobile learning lab is used.

Ten-year-old Vanessa VanVors, going into the fifth grade at Bill E. Young, said she liked learning to use digital cameras "because you get to see your pictures right away."

"I'm glad I'm in this program. It's fun," Vanessa said.

While Castillo is coordinator of the Desert Without Borders program, he's acted as an instructor at several technology camps.

At a recent class on Web pages, Castillo said the kids were picking it up so well they were finding new ways of doing things.

"Sometimes we learn from them," Castillo said.

Julio Rodriguez, assistant director of the Imperial County CalSOAP office, said the program has received good response in this, its first year in Imperial County.

Rodriguez said the technology camps will continue next summer and he hopes to expand the program to target more of Imperial County, particularly areas without many services.

"We want to be more inclusive of those kids," Rodriguez said.

The technology camps were free to participants and were open to any interested students in fifth- through ninth-grade.

"We're trying to open up doors and opportunities," Rodriguez said.

At the same time, the kids in Calipatria had fun. Before Friday's session was over, they already were asking Castillo when the next camp would be staged in their city.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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