A new technology camp for middle school students is looking for local companies to help fund equipment and tuition costs for financially-disadvantage youth.

Forest Park tech camp seeks sponsors

Thu Jan 26, 2017

A new technology camp for middle school students is looking for local companies to help fund equipment and tuition costs for financially-disadvantage youth.

"Raspberry Pi Summer Camp" attendees will build their own computer, install two operating systems, learn some basic coding using the Python language to customize Minecraft, and then take the entire completed project home with them when finished.

Jennifer Smith, LISD Instructional Technology Specialist, said the program needs just a little over $1,000 for the 11 kits that students will be using, in addition to tuition assistance for students of promise whose families may have difficulty covering the cost.

"Our middle school campus is largely low socioeconomic families without technology resources. Without these resources, we know students have a tough time finding a level playing field with their more affluent peers. But what if we could change that?" she said. "What if we could teach students to build their own low cost computer and get them started on coding? What if there were low cost customizations they could make on their own to the computer such as adding a webcam for only 15 dollars — easy enough for a kid to save up for and purchase? We could change not only that student’s life, but perhaps the whole family dynamic."

The Longview ISD Education Foundation has provided the 'seed money' to do the project, and Smith said her group is seeking tuition assistance for this year's campers. Tuition replaces the equipment for next year's campers and provides a nominal salary for the 2 staff members. The kits run $80 dollars each, so to completely fund the camp (where no student would have to pay) would run just shy $1,200.

"Doing so allows the camp to be self-funding and continues to refresh with current versions of the hardware," Smith added.

Lunch for the camp will also be provided through the LISD summer food program.

The project will continue throughout the school year with "Raspberry Jam sessions" where students who built a Raspberry Pi or who are interested in the process can get together after school and show off their projects, network with other students and staff, and build a learning community.

For more information about how you can help support this program, please contact Jennifer Smith at jlsmith@lisd.org or (903) 446-2531.