BY KRISTINA M. WASSON
Bay Area high school students and incoming college freshmen can get a head start on developing the computer skills necessary for high-tech careers simply by attending a new summer camp. Unlike traditional summer camps designed to develop artistic, athletic or leadership skills, the next generation of summer camps provides a computer for every camper and teaches computer and communications skills in robotics, 3-D animation, web-page creation, digital moviemaking and more.
"Most high school students are computer savvy, but few have the quality of skills necessary for academic and professional excellence," says Pete Findley, founder and chief executive officer of Cybercamps, a Kirkland, Wash.-based company and global leader in technology education for children. "Our goal is to pick up where the schools leave off because of time and budget constraints."
Cybercamps develops curricula to provide school-aged students with computer skills and software knowledge. The camps are held at colleges and universities around the country for children 7 to 16 years old. This summer's program at Stanford, however, is specifically designed for young adults 16 to 21 years old. The program begins July 10 and will run Monday through Friday until Aug. 4.
Last fall, Phil Gibson, head of business development for Stanford's Academic Computing department, approached Cybercamps executives to establish a partnership. Findley says the partnership made sense because Stanford and Cybercamps have similar goals.
The summer program will provide new resources for the Stanford community: upgraded multimedia systems and software, multimedia expertise for faculty projects and improved multimedia curriculum for use in workshops taught throughout the academic year.
In addition, the program allows the university and businesses to assist the local high school community, Gibson says: "This program will result in better teaching and learning as supported by Academic Computing that's our job."
Four different curricular tracks will be held each week to give students the opportunity to participate in all tracks. The tracks are project oriented. Students who enroll in the "Wild Web Pages" session, for example, will learn the basics of web page creation using start-of-the-art software including Macromedia's Dreamweaver to create personal websites. Other projects include designing a multimedia (audio, video and text) presentation and making a digital movie.
Each track can accommodate more than 100 high school students and high school teachers. The latter attend faculty-only sessions. Each day participants attend two workshops that last from two to three hours, providing about 30 hours of instruction and training.
Instructors from both Cybercamps and Stanford's Academic Computing department will teach the sessions in Meyer Library using Apple iMac and G4 computers. Apple Computers, the major sponsor for this program, trained the digital video session instructors. Apple is providing Canon digital video cameras and complimentary copies of Final Cut Pro for students participating in the "Visionary Video" sessions. Other corporate sponsors providing software for the sessions include Adobe, Macromedia, Microsoft, Terran Interactive, QDesign and Sorenson Video.
The cost for each session is $650. The Cybercamps Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that operates separately from Cybercamps, supports low-income children who want to attend the computer camps. Apple Computers also provides full scholarships for qualifying participants.