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Tech Adventure Camp Scores with Students

They cooked, programmed Lego vehicles, created space-invader games, made mousepads and learned about first aid and Internet safety. Students attending Tech Adventure Camp at The Chantilly Academy, July 9-20, did all these things and more.

"I'D DEFINITELY recommend it because you learn things that'll help you later in life, and it's overall fun," said Franklin Middle School eighth-grader Jordan Corrie. "And it's better to be hanging out here with friends than being at home, just being lazy."

All 150 middle and elementary school students enrolled took six classes, three each week. And camp Principal Karl Gussow called it a rousing success. "I'm having a blast," he said. "I teach business education at Fairfax High, so it's good to see kids at a different level and in a different setting."

"And because kids are so technologically advanced these days, it gives them an edge to see what they want to do in the future," he continued. "They get to see what they like and don't like and then focus on that."

Liberty eighth-grader Emily Wood especially liked Traveling Gourmet, in which student made international food such as Hungarian goulash, nachos, Monte Cristo sandwiches and English trifle.

"We got to cook real food in a commercial kitchen," she said. "I liked making calzones with pepperoni, cheese, sauce and special spices." Emily also liked learning "life skills, like CPR," and making a computer mousepad. Hers had a wakeboarding boat and a jumping fish on it.

Jordan enjoyed Cyber Security class. "It's useful for kids," he said. "We learned what not to do on the computer, what Web sites are good and bad, and what sites to trust and not trust. If it's a Web site you haven't heard of before, you shouldn't trust it."

Liberty's Alex Hamrick attended camp last year and returned because "the classes were fun and the teachers were nice." This time, he really liked Game Maker.

"You learned how to make 'Chocobreak,' a 2-D game on the computer," he said. "You move the player around with a mouse and try to break bricks with a little, golden ball. It was fun because I like video games and using computers."

Another Liberty student, David Kilpatrick, enjoyed Photo FX. "You get to mix pictures around and make new ones for a mousepad," he explained. "I brought in a Star Wars photo and mixed characters so they'd be standing next to each other in one picture."

Photo FX teacher Scott Settar, technology teacher at West Springfield High, said his young students were interested in and eager to learn the subject. "They also enjoy seeing some of their friends from last year," he said. "It's like a summer camp and we try to make it fun — and there are no grades."

Extreme EMT teacher Jennifer Majeske taught the pharmacy technician class at The Chantilly Academy. At camp, her students learned basic first air, when and when not to call 911, and keeping themselves safe on a daily basis.

"IT'S LOTS of fun; it's a more casual atmosphere and is more relaxing for the teachers, too," she said. "It gives the kids a chance to look at things outside the normal, school boundaries and core classes. And they like sharing their [injury] stories; it helps them learn they're not unbreakable objects, but that they can break and be OK."

In Extreme EMT, sixth-grader Mason Chee learned a candle's heat "can kill germs and lemon is an anesthetic." And Greenbriar West's Aditya Goodala learned about the human body and the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bike, skateboard or razor scooter. "You're learning a lot of stuff while having fun," he said.

GBW classmate Miranda Hudson came to camp so she could help her mom with her music-class Web site and learn more about PhotoShop and computers. "I don't want to stay in the Stone Age," she said.

Photo FX was her favorite class "because you could choose any background and put it onto a mousepad, books or photo albums. I'm a horse fan, so I put my favorite Breyer model horses on my mousepad."

Virginia Run Elementary sixth-grader Cathleen Watkins also liked that class because "we have PhotoShop at home, but I never knew how to use it. Now I can make funny pictures of my brother."

In Robotics Mindstorm, Centre Ridge sixth-grader Mitchell Bentley liked building Lego robots called zoobots. "They have two, big wheels in the back, and you activate them by using the computer," he said. "We made them go around on the floor."

He enjoyed Tech Adventure Camp because "you can cook, build and do just about anything here. All the people are friendly and there's a variety of things to do."

The students programmed their robots to go to a taped line, reverse, go to a second line and stop. Seventh-grader Gurvina Atwal said, "It's really cool when you program stuff and it's a success because programming is a challenge. But if we get jobs in computers, it could really help us."

Kevin Chau, Willow Springs fifth-grader, was glad his mom signed him up because "it's pretty fun." He especially liked making and animating a computer game, and he recommends the camp because "you can meet lots of interesting people and make them friends."

Game Maker teacher Chad Majeske (Jennifer's husband) teaches technology at Key Middle. "After learning the basics, students play with the program, making harder levels of 'Chocobreak' or creating space-invader or other new games," he said. "They learn programming and problem-solving, see results relatively quickly and get a copy of everyone's games to take home on a CD."

Stone eighth-grader Greg Thomas made a game called Space Wars. "This is the best class of all because it's just fun," he said. "You get to play games."

And Rocky Run's Brent Sherwood created a game where "an alien-like, squiggly dude shoots little missiles so the ships don't get to his planet. It's pretty cool seeing all the programming come together to make an awesome game. This camp teaches cool, great stuff."

MEANWHILE, in Cyber Security, Deer Park sixth-grader Sapna Rao learned how to avoid computer viruses and keep herself safe on the Internet. "If you meet someone in a chat room, they could find your information on the Internet," she explained. "So be careful about your information; keep your name, address and phone number hidden. Anybody can lie, so don't meet with anybody you meet on the Internet."

In Traveling Gourmet, students made food from the U.S., England, France, Italy, Mexico and Hungary. Cuisine included calzones, Monte Cristo sandwiches, Sloppy Joes, baked fries, peach upside-down cake and root beer floats.

The instructors were Stone Middle's Family & Consumer Science teacher, Trisha Egbers and assistant Emily Altadonna, a Stone math teacher. "They were an outstanding, nice group of kids," said Egbers. "They learned how to prepare nice, well-balanced meals."

"I can't wait to get back home and make everything," said Rocky Run's Avanti Shirke. "This class is an amazing chance to learn new recipes and stuff. I learned how to measure precisely and make sure pots and pans are thoroughly clean. Her favorite dishes were the goulash and peach upside-down cake "because they tasted really good."

Franklin seventh-grader Cameron Thomas said he learned to cook new things and this was his favorite class. He especially liked putting tomato sauce, pepperoni and cheese into pizza dough to make calzones. "I learned that, when you're preparing dough, you have to put down flour first or it'll stick," he said. "Now I'll start cooking more at home."

Stone's Elijah Vaughn liked making goulash. "You put hamburger in a pan and keep stirring it, and put in uncooked macaroni and tomato sauce," he said. "I liked that we got to do everything and got recipes at the end. You can make new friends, learn how to cook and have a good job if you listen really well."

"I liked it a lot because we got to cook and then eat," said Stone seventh-grader Reed Weatherholtz. "I liked making oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies from scratch. I also learned how to keep your food safe from bacteria by refrigerating or heating it." The hardest thing? "Dishwashing," he replied. "You had to get all the food scraps off."