Google's Online Camp Teaches Kids to Create Bottle Rockets and Sneakers

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on July 3, 2014 8:49am 

 The third Maker Camp starts July 7.
The third Maker Camp starts July 7.
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Courtesy of Google

QUEENS — At this camp, kids need a computer more than a kayak.

Maker Camp, a free online summer program from Maker Media and Google, lets kids take virtual field trips around the world and try their hand at making rockets and other gadgets without leaving their own home.

The camp, which kicks off its third season on July 7, is for kids 13 years and older, who have access to the Internet and have created a Google+ profile.

For those kids who don’t have Internet access at home or want to work on projects with other children in their community, the program is also available at a number of libraries, schools and museums, including J.H.S. 157 Stephen A. Halsey in Rego Park.

The school, which last year introduced a new software engineering program, and has a strong technology curriculum, is one of only four locations in New York City this year to host the camp. The other locations include Robogamers, a New York-based robotics team, Columbia University Libraries and Urban Tech Club in Harlem.

During the camp, kids connect via the Google+ social platform and participate in daily Google+ Hangouts, in which instructors and experts guide them through the projects.

Every week, from Monday to Thursday, kids work on different assignments. This year they will learn how to make a soda bottle rocket and iridescent sneakers, among other projects, the organizers said.

“We are trying to make sure that kids have a chance to get involved in some fun innovative summer activities” that “supplement what they do inside the classroom,” said Ray Gobberg, a spokesman for Google.

On Fridays, kids go on virtual field trips. “We take them to places that are very hard to see,” Gobberg said.

This year campers will get a chance to visit Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and Legoland in Billund, Denmark. They will also hang out with Google’s team which is working on creating a self-driving car.

Kids can pick sessions they want to attend. If they miss a training they were interested in, they will be able to watch it later online.

Materials used for workshops are usually inexpensive and easy to get at local stores, Gobberg said. Some of the sites will be also providing supplies free of charge, organizers said.

Maker Camp starts on July 7 and will run through Aug. 15. For more information and schedule of workshops, go here. For more information about the Rego Park location, go here.

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