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August 15, 2007

DTC hosts Kids Tech Camp

THE THIRD ANNUAL University of Minnesota CSE/DTC Technology Day Camp is now underway. The camp is a five-day, on-campus program running Aug. 13–17, 2007, aimed at exposing children from underprivileged backgrounds to a collegiate atmosphere and getting them interested in science and technology.

Kelly Cannon, a CSE doctoral student, started the innovative childrens camp in 2005. The camp targets mostly inner-city middle school girls and minorities groups — demographics that are underrepresented in high-tech fields. At the camp students spend time in University labs working on fun projects they can take home, with CSE graduate students serving as volunteers. Past projects include building lunch box boomboxes with circuit boards and rewired MP3 players, and programming Sony AIBO robot dogs to dance.

The camp has grown from in attendance from 15 to a projected 40 students in 2007, and from just five graduate student volunteers to a projected 30. The cost to the students is free. The cost supplemented by sponsors is $300 per student, which includes bussing to campus, a light breakfast each morning, lunch, and a minimum of one take home project. Camp sponsors include the Center for Distributed Robotics and the Digital Technology Center. The program is constantly seeking additional sponsorship.