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Published June 18, 2009, 03:59 PM

Camp hopes to get girls hooked on technology

The second-floor computer lab in the College of St. Scholastica’s Tower Hall has been filled since Monday with young girls wearing neon-green T-shirts and focused on the bright screens in front of them.

By: Sarah Rosten , Duluth News Tribune

The second-floor computer lab in the College of St. Scholastica’s Tower Hall has been filled since Monday with young girls wearing neon-green T-shirts and focused on the bright screens in front of them.

This week, the college is hosting a free technology summer camp for girls, offering the fifth- to eighth-graders a chance to learn about computer technology and use it creatively.

“There are very few women in science and technology fields,” said Jennifer Rosato, an assistant professor of computer science and information systems, who is leading the camp. “The larger goal is to increase the number of girls interested in technology and choosing the field as a career.”

The daylong camp sessions allow the girls to explore technology and learn about technology-

*elated careers. Activities include creating video games, editing photos, producing a video for YouTube and designing Web sites.

St. Scholastica has held technology camps before, but most participants were boys. That prompted the college to create the girls camp, said Robert Ashenmacher, the college’s executive director of marketing.

Rosato said the camp activities are not geared specifically for girls, but the projects and technologies being used are versatile and allow for the kinds of creativity and expression that girls seem to particularly enjoy. For example, one tool the girls learn to use is the game design software Scratch.

“Scratch focuses a lot more on graphics, and you can do storytelling,” Rosato said, “Girls are more into storytelling than target-shooting games.”

The free camp is sponsored partly by a grant from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. Girls who participate are given a portable computer drive and Scratch software so they can continue using the technology they learn while at camp when they get home.

Claire Gibbons, a senior at Hermantown High School, is a volunteer helper at the camp. She plans to study graphic design in college.

“I think it’s really a great opportunity that many girls might not have,” Gibbons said. “It will help them realize girls can use technology, too.”

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