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Sector67, Children’s Museum summer tech camps click with kids
The Capital Times
By Laurel White
A 6-year-old wielding the power of a 3D printer may seem like an unlikely thing, but it’s going to happen this summer in Madison. Quite frequently, in fact.
Tech-centric summer camps are booming in popularity across the city, according to organizers.
“I think kids just love to use technology, you put a computer or a tablet in their hands and their face lights up,” said Tim Dreyer, Possible-opolis education manager at the Madison Children’s Museum.
The 3D printing camp is being presented in partnership with the UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery. It will allow children from grades three to five to design and print a 3D object of their own creation. The inventing camp, also for grades three to five, will give kids hands-on experience with the “tools of the trade that are used in the research and development of the new and improved products.” And, like the 3D printing camp, kids will leave with a prototype they made themselves.
Across town, coworking space Sector67, which also describes itself as a “hackerspace” and “makerspace,” will host a camp for tech-inclined youngsters.
“It’s a great way for these kids to have exposure and be able to use this technology that’s not seen or used every day,” said Heather Wentler, founder of Fractal, a STEAM (“science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics”)-focused educational organization. Wentler is the facilitator of Sector67’s summer camps.
“When I have a 6-year-old using a 3D printer, that’s pretty cool,” she said.
The Sector67 camps will be held weekly from June 15 to August 17. Each is a half-day, Monday through Friday.
Children ages 6 to 13 will be able to choose between four project areas at the camps: Drawdio, Scratch, 3D modeling and printing and an introduction to sewing. Drawdio is a pen that can make music. At the camp, kids are given a “Drawdio kit” that helps them build their own Drawdio. Scratch is a coding language designed by MIT specifically for kids. It allows them to build their own interactive stories or games. The 3D modeling project utilizes Google SketchUp for kids to draw their model, then print it. The comparatively old school sewing sessions offer an introduction to using a sewing machine and making patterns.
Wentler said interest in the Sector67 summer camps has been growing steadily since they launched three years ago.
“When we first started, we were happy if two or three kids were showing up,” she said. “And (this year’s) summer classes are starting to fill up already.”
She said she expects the August camps, which are available when many other summer opportunities have called it quits for the season, to fill up fast.
“It’s a great thing, if you’re scrambling to figure out what to do with your kids in that month,” she said. “This is just another great outlet for them.”