Area Students Enter Interactive World of Learning at UHD Summer Camps
By Mark Kramer
Robots dancing to the Macarena …students building their own computers to take home … middle school and elementary students learning the skills of debate through a variety role-playing scenarios.
Welcome to the University of Houston-Downtown’s Summer Camps.
A record number 2,511 students are participating in this year’s activities that are hosted at the UHD campus and several other locations including the University of Houston, the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Faith West Academy in Katy, Cornerstone Christian Academy in Sugar Land and Nolan Ryan Junior High in the Alvin Independent School District. The camps run through July 12.
“This is the most students that we’ve ever had,” said G.V. Krishnan, director of the Applied Business and Technology Center, who manages the summer program. “We started this as a computer camp in 2002, and over time, interest kept growing and also the need for more offerings in science, technology, engineering and other areas.
Students have the choice to attend weeklong courses that include CompuCamp, EngineeringCamp, ScienceCamp, WritingCamp, SummerAcademy and LanguageCamp. Krishnan said the camps are filled with opportunities for interactive learning.
“Our activities are 100 percent hands-on,” he said. “We provide innovative learning experiences that capture the students’ interests and create a passion that could guide them in their studies and even possible careers.”
One of those students who has an eye for the future is Bedant Srinivasan, a fifth grade student at the T.H. Rogers School, a K-12 campus in Houston ISD. Srinivasan has a keen interest in robotics and helped a team of students program a three-foot robots that could perform various tasks such as carrying small items from one part of the classroom to another.
And then, they programmed the robot for find his dance groove.
With a group of visitors watching, the robot performed to different music, concluding with his moves to ”The Macarena.”
“Robots are going to be a big part of our future and that’s why we need to learn about them,” Srinivasan said. “I’ve enjoyed learning and working with the robot. I could see this as something I’d like to do someday.”
In a nearby classroom, Beemnet Tsiege was busy programming a personal computer he built in two days as part CompuCamp. The junior who attends YES Prep-Gulfton Campus and other students in the class will be able to take computers home at the end of the week.
“It is amazing what goes into building a computer from conception to completion,” Tsiege said. “I create websites and have learned code, so programming is familiar to me. It’s something that I enjoy and learning more about.”
Tsiege is already thinking about where he plans to attend college and says he is considering UHD as an option. “I just want to go where I can receive the best education possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, in another part of the building, SummerAcademy students are learning to make compelling arguments in the “Power of Debate” class. The instructor was teaching students how to make “attention grabber statements,” which she described as facts during a discussion that immediately captures the ears of an audience.
Leena Walker, a sixth grade student at League City Intermediate in Clear Creek ISD, could be one of those rising stars trying cases in the courtroom in a few years.
“My mom is a lawyer and I want to follow in her footsteps,” she said. “I thought learning debate would be the start of helping me reach those future goals.”
Jay Singh, an eighth grade T.H. Rogers School student, blended his musical talents and his love of technology through his participation in Audio Engineering class.
Singh plays several instruments, including the cello, piano and keyboard. During the class he learned to use sound mixing computer programs to blend music and animation together.
“I have thoughts eventually becoming a software developer,” he said. “Learning these skills and building on them in the technology field is going help me in the future.”
Krishnan said these camps give students an opportunity to experience the atmosphere of the university experience, something he hopes will leave a lasting impact.
“These camps not only teach academic skills, but life skills,” Krishnan said. “My hope is that they will build on what they have learned and let it lead them in the future.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.