Our First Ever Camp!

By Lile Stephens, Technology Education Instructor

We just finished up our first tech summer camp and it was a blast! Ten students joined us for the week to create original projects around image, sound, and video. To kick off the camp, we dove head first into GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program. GIMP is a powerful open-source alternative to Photoshop which we used to teach students about image resolution, layers, and color/value adjustments, as well as advanced topics like alpha channels and layer masking. Each student showcased their skills in a final project by choosing to make a fake video game box cover or fictional album cover! Next, we used the program Audacity to record, download, and mix different sounds into a sound story. The skills developed in this project will provide a solid foundation for anyone interested in recording and mixing music, editing podcasts or radio shows, and sound design for TV and film. Audacity can also be downloaded for free to any computer.

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guardian album

Our kids used their new imaging and audio skills in a final group project: an infomercial! We divided up the camp into three groups, tasking them with inventing a new ‘use’ for an existing object and pitching it as a new must-have invention. We had a lot of fun with this one. After looking at some examples of infomercials from the past, students got to work finding clips, writing a script, recording voiceovers, and adding graphics and effects. We even used a low budget but effective green screen to transport our actors to different locations! It was difficult to find an open-source and cross-platform video editing program, so we decided to try out a collaborative web-based video application called WeVideo. Our students were able to pass the job of editing back and forth with this program that is optimized for education. The principles of editing and even the layout of the software provided a primer for anyone looking to graduate to more professional video software. After spending almost half of the week working on our video projects, the Kramden staff joined us for the debut screening and we all had a good laugh.

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In between instruction and projects, we had brainstorming sessions and played a variety of games. The weather was great and we were able to have some time outside to eat lunch and hang out in the gazebo. All in all, our inaugural camp was a success! We’re looking forward to having regular camps in the future and seeing what crazy things our students can create!