Summer Day Camps Bloom at Mason

Posted: June 25, 2013 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: June 28, 2013 at 9:20 am

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By Frances Womble

children in summer camp

Summer camps bring a younger audience to the Mason campuses. Photo by Alexis Glenn

This summer, many of George Mason University’s buildings, facilities and professors switch from serving exclusively college students to a younger audience. Over the next few months, Mason offers more than 100 day camps to preschool through high school-age community members.

The camps range from four days to several weeks. Some offer morning or afternoon sessions, while others last the full day. Topics range from creative and performing arts and athletics to science, writing and everything in between.

Some camps, like AppIT, which is offered through the Volgenau School of Engineering, are partnering with community organizations.

Kamaljeet Sanghera, associate professor in the Department of Applied Information Technology, worked with Mid-Atlantic Girls Collaboration Project (MAGIC) and Fairfax County Public Schools to organize AppIT, a weeklong camp in early August for rising eighth graders.

“The collaboration enables us to offer the campers more than just one group can provide,” she says.

During AppIT, an undergraduate student along with Sanghera will teach campers how to use MIT’s AppInventor, a free visual development system, to create apps for Android phones. Campers will create apps to solve real-world problems, such as locating a parked car or not texting while driving.  The campers will then be able to design the user interface and make their own favorite app. On the last day of AppIT, campers will go on a field trip to AOL’s Dulles campus to present their apps for professionals to critique.

“This is a great learning experience for everyone involved,” Sanghera says. “Our undergraduate student will get valuable teaching experience, and our campers learn technical and soft skills. The goal of the camp is to not only enhance critical thinking but also strengthen their problem solving and presentation skills.”

She adds, “App Inventor is a web-based software which uses pre-programmed blocks of code to build apps. Our campers need no supplies and limited programming experience.  They should leave us with confidence in using technology and programming tools. At the camp, campers will have Android devices to test their apps. Those who do not have Android phones can continue to practice using a free emulator after they leave camp.”

For more information about AppIT and to see the full list of camps available, see the summer camps website.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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