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Tech Adventure Camp

Students learn technology and careers at The Chantilly Academy.

Sanjeet Das, a rising seventh-grader at Rocky Run Middle School, sat at a computer and put the finishing touches on his amusement park. He had created it for his Hypersonic Marketing class at The Chantilly Academy's Tech Adventure Camp.

"We're using marketing skills in the game, Rollercoaster Tycoon, to try to get the best park rating," he explained. "This was really fun because we got to play games."

"The students designed amusement parks and made commercials to market them," added teacher Meg Redrup, marketing teacher at Lake Braddock Secondary. "They're really good at figuring out what their amusement-park guests need and how to get it to them."

Hypersonic Marketing was just one of six classes taken by all 150 students attending the camp during the two-week session from July 11-22. Classes were 90 minutes each, and students took three different subjects each week.

The focus was on technology and careers, and the curriculum gave students a taste of the variety of educational opportunities available at the Academy. Besides that, said Redrup, "You never have problems at Tech Adventure Camp because the kids really want to be here."

Sanjeet, 12 1/2, attended the camp for the first time and was glad he did. "I really enjoyed myself because most of the classes were fun and I met lots of great people," he said. "I'd recommend this camp to others because you can learn and have fun at the same time."

Virginia Run Elementary sixth-grader Ian Thompson also liked the Hypersonic Marketing class. "I've seen this game, but never played it before," he said. "And we got to use the computers."

Also popular was the Third Watch class where students learned about fire and rescue careers, first aid and how to respond to medical emergencies. Even firefighters from Station 15 in Chantilly participated.

"They brought over their fire engines and medic units and did a really awesome job of introducing the kids to the Fire and Rescue Department," said teacher Penny Kelly who instructs the fire/EMS program at Falls Church High.

"It was really cool," said Ana Akhtar, 11, a Greenbriar West Elementary sixth-grader. "It was a neat class 'cause you learned a lot about CPR so you can make people feel safe around you. We made first-aid kits and we got manuals that told you how to heal burns and take care of snake bites."

She came to camp because of all the different classes offered. And she said she'd recommend it because "it teaches you things you can do in real life, and it's fun, so it's a mix of both."

The last day of Third Watch, students made protective coverings for eggs to demonstrate the importance of wearing helmets when riding a bike. Then they were going to drop their eggs from a high place and see which covering worked the best. Ana wrapped her egg in bubble wrap and lots of tape. And GBW classmate Sheila Kaushik cushioned hers with waxed paper, tape, bubble wrap, Styrofoam peanuts and a plastic glove.

STUDENTS ALSO did hands-on learning in Extreme Engineering, taught by Mark Bolt, who teaches Technological Systems at Rachel Carson. In Extreme Engineering, students used K'Nex plastic building materials to create amusement-park rides — rollercoasters, ferris wheels and boom and spin rides.

On the last day of camp , they made bridges — with no instructions. "The other projects had instructions," said Bolt. "For this one, they're only using their minds. We're seeing how much weight their bridges can support and who can build them the most economically."

A veteran Tech Adventure Camp teacher, Bolt said this summer's students were wonderful, as always. "They come in with a lot of energy and we give them a lot to do. They learn from each other and also learn how to follow directions. In the bridge activity, they learn the use of triangulation and trusses."

Taylor Vogelzang, 12, of Rachel Carson, made a K'Nex bridge to place between two tables. Then he planned to pile textbooks (each representing about two pounds) on it. His classmates did likewise to see whose structure was strongest and would hold the most weight.

"It was a good class," said Taylor. "Building things and watching them be destroyed is fun. We also made index-card cylinders to see which one [was the sturdiest]. And we learned about engineering, physics and all the science that goes into building a rollercoaster."

While having fun, students learned about things such as kinetic energy, potential energy, free-fall, friction, velocity and acceleration. "The overall theme for my class was amusement-park physics," said Bolt. "So whatever they made, they then labeled the different physics terms and where they were taking place on their amusement-park rides."

Harrison Waddell, a Franklin Middle seventh-grader, liked that class, too, as well as Iron Chef (cooking), and said he'd definitely recommend the camp. "It had so much stuff to offer," he said. "My best friend is coming next year, so I'm definitely coming back."

CALLING IRON CHEF "amazing," he said it was his favorite class "because you got to see how food was made and know that you made it and it tasted good." He especially liked making Fettuccini Alfredo and garlic bread because "I was the person stirring the pots, so it was very fun."

Harrison also learned about various culinary jobs, such as sous chef, prep cook and line cook. Sheila Kaushik liked cooking different things each day, such as pizza, French toast, omelets and bacon.

"We also learned skills like dicing, washing dishes and making sauces," she said. "And Chef [Jennifer] Jones gave us an information packet telling us how to make the recipes at home."

Jones, on The Chantilly Academy's support team, was hands down the most popular teacher at the whole camp. All she had to do was casually stroll into the cafeteria at lunchtime, and students cheered and hollered as if she were a celebrity. And at Tech Adventure Camp, she was.

"Chef Jones rocks!" said Rachel Carson eighth-grader Brandon Johnson. "She's a great cook and she's funny. Her class was really fun and her recipes were great, and I hope she comes back next year."

"I didn't treat them like kids; I treated them like employees at a restaurant," explained Jones. "I gave them a brief lecture, then they'd go into the kitchen and cook, clean up, get their food and eat together."

On the last day, they made ice-cream sandwiches out of chocolate chip cookies, raspberry sauce, chocolate sauce and whipped-cream rosettes they made, themselves.

"In past years, they've done things like Chex mix and deviled eggs so, this year, I took it to more of a culinary level," said Jones. "So we had Fettuccini Alfredo, omelets, fresh salsa and homemade pizza. The kids worked with commercial equipment, such as tilt skillets, meat slicers and proof boxes [which allow pizza dough to rise]."

She taught 75 students a day and said their skill level was "unbelievable." She said they'd produce 30 beautiful pizzas, and fifth-graders would make fluffy omelets that "looked amazing."

And since she wanted them to learn proper terminology and feel as if they were working in a real restaurant, she organized them into stations. Prep cooks chopped vegetables and herbs for the line cooks who'd actually cook the food. Then sanitation employees would clean up. They even had a gardemanager who's responsible for cold foods like sandwiches and salads.

"I liked it because you got to make all this food and try out recipes," said Union Mill Elementary sixth-grader David Kilpatrick. "And as you get older, you'll be able to cook for your family. I made the salsa at home, too."

His favorite part was making pizza because "my job was to make the sauce and it was fun doing the stirring. I think Chef Jones is a great cook because she keeps the teams happy, she's funny and she always encourages you. It was my first year here, and I thought it was the best camp I ever went to."

POPLAR TREE Elementary sixth-grader Conor Moran liked Iron Chef class the best, too, because "you get a lot of hands-on and you get to eat." He said the Fettuccini Alfredo tasted really good, and he found out "you have to concentrate on making the sauce and be careful to get all the right ingredients and not burn it."

GBW sixth-grader Alyssa Rozines, 11, pronounced Iron Chef "really, really fun. I love to cook, so I was looking forward to it, and Chef Jones was really nice. I didn't want it to be over." She especially enjoyed making French toast, omelets and bacon.

"I dipped the bread into eggs, cream and milk, and someone else would cook it," explained Alyssa. "Then someone else would sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on the toast, right after you put it on the stove. And it tasted really good."

Laura Ricciardi, a Virginia Run sixth-grader, called Iron Chef "really cool. It was awesome making the omelets. I never had experience doing that, and it was hard flipping them and not burning yourself, because everything was hot. But Chef Jones was the best cook ever, and I learned dicing when we diced tomatoes and onions for the salsa. I've been helping my mom cook, and I told her I want to start practicing omelets at home."

However, Clifton Elementary grad Mike Crumplar, heading to Robinson, was just as excited about Extreme Makeover. "We're morphing pictures — taking pictures off the Internet and changing them into other pictures," he explained. "We make 'em funny. We can blur their heads and we can put someone's head on someone else's body."

Earlier, he said, the students designed house interiors and he put a pool and gazebo in his backyard. "I think it's really fun; it's probably the best class," said Mike. "We get to use technology to our advantage."

Jonathon Hsu, a Franklin seventh-grader, also liked designing a house. And, he said, "We learned how to work with Adobe Photoshop software and 3-D Home Architect." Also a fan of the camp, he said if he hadn't attended, he'd just be "home, doing nothing."

In I, Robot class, students designed, assembled and programmed their own robots. And student Ian Thompson loved it. "We got to make robots and race them and play lots of games," he said. GBW sixth-grader Jessica Bogert had a great time, too.

"We built robots out of Legos and used [the program] RoboLab on the computer to tell it what to do," she said. "I had my robot turn a light on and make turns. I'm coming back to camp next year because I had a lot of fun and made new friends."

Chloe Bird, a Colin Powell sixth-grader, said the students worked with partners. "We made our robot go around in circles and run for 12 seconds," she said. "I've never built one, before, so it was interesting to learn how." She, too, recommends the camp because "the teachers are really nice and you get to learn new stuff."