After a week of coding, building websites and reconstructing computers, a group of Dorchester District 2 students were surprised Friday afternoon with their own laptops at the culmination of Build-a-Computer Camp.
After receiving a certificate and a hug from Hanahan Mayor Minnie Blackwell, they were told they would be given a "fancy calculator" by the ECPI University instructors who worked with them throughout the week. Their eyes lit up when they were given small laptop computers.
"This is the best calculator ever!" camper Abbie Dyson, 9, exclaimed as she opened her laptop.
The 16 campers took apart modems of older desktop computers at the beginning of the week and learned how the major components worked before reassembling it themselves. The kids worked with ECPI professors, including Abey Getachew, who teaches computer science.
"They didn't even fail the first time," Getachew said to the campers' parents at a graduation ceremony. "They just tried and did it and it worked."
The idea for the camp, run by Dorchester 2 in partnership with ECPI in North Charleston, initially came from Build-a-Bear Workshop, the popular chain where kids can make their own teddy bear, Blackwell said.
"But instead of Build-a-Bear, Build-a-Computer. We all know we want to do it," said Blackwell, who is also District 2's workforce and science, technology, engineering and math coordinator. "This is what kids are interested in now."
Reach Amanda Coyne at 937-5592 or on Twitter at @AmandaCCoyne.