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Tech camp

Haley Connot, left, and Justus Myers play games they created using a Makey Makey interface Monday during a technology camp held by Iowa State University Extension at the Midtown Family Community Center. The one-day camp was designed for middle school students who were off from school due to parent-teacher conferences. 

SIOUX CITY | 20 years from now, Haley Connot might be an award-winning music video director.

Or perhaps, the North Middle School seventh-grader will become a nimble sports photographer, capable of capturing the perfect shot.

But now, Haley seemed content, wielding a GoPro video camera as her friend Justus Myers kicks a soccer ball.

"This is really cool," Haley said, playing back the footage. "I got the shot that I wanted."

Haley was one of the middle school students participating in an all-day technology camp, held Monday at the Midtown Family Community Center.

According to Cheryl Connot Perez, a 4-H and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach youth program specialist, such camps are held throughout the school year. 

"We traditionally hold our discovery learning camps when students have the day off from school," she explained. "Since the middle-schoolers have the day off due to parent-teacher conferences, we decided to hold a camp dedicated specifically to sixth- to eighth-graders."

In addition to experimenting with GoPro cameras, the students got the chance to travel around the world, via a pair of virtual reality glasses.

"So far, I've been to Paris, the Greek Acropolis and racing down a scary roller coaster," Navaea Dunn, an East Middle School seventh grader, said. "When you have those 3D glasses on, it makes you feel weird but I like it." 

In an different room, Navaea's classmate Ty Cullison was creating music in a very unusual way.

"I can turn an object that conducts electricity into a user interface keyboard controller," Ty said, attaching one end of a clip to an old pop can and the other end to a tiny circuit board. "When everything's connected, bongo drums will appear on my computer screen. I get to play it when tapping on the keyboard's space key and left arrow."

While Ty's intrigued by technology, the East Middle School seventh-grader doesn't want a career in science.

"I really don't know what I want to do as a career," Ty said.

Jacob Sweisberger, on the other hand, knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up.

"I'm gonna be a fishing tour guide when I grow up," the East Middle School seventh-grader offered without hesitation. "I already know every specie of fish there is in the state of Iowa."

Tech camp

Jacob Sweisberger, 12, works with a Lego EV robot Monday, during a technology camp held by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach at the Midtown Family Community Center.

"Jacob, you know even fishing tour guides can benefit from knowing science and technology, right?" Connot Perez asked.

"Maybe," Jacob said with a shrug. "I just want to fish."

Connot Perez smiled as she watched middle-schoolers experiment with LEGO robots, 3D pens and other pieces of technology.

"Science and technology is so important for young people nowadays," she said. "Discovery learning camps give kids a chance to explore with plenty of hands-on application."

That was certainly the case with budding GoPro video maker Haley Connot. 

"In my free time, I like watching YouTube videos to see how professionals edit their work," she said, looking into a view finder. "Technology camps give me the chance to learn about the stuff that's important to me."


Food and Lifestyles reporter

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