Tech camp geeky yet cool

Vijay Soni of Hanahan Middle School competes Wednesday in the recycling relay during the second annual Innovation Technology & Entrepreneurship Among Middle Schoolers camp, or iTeams. The camp is a partnership between the Governor's School for Science and

Rising eighth- and ninth-graders from across Berkeley County have been broadening their minds -- with a little help from Google -- during a technology-based summer camp.

Over two sessions at Berkeley High School, students took part in the second annual Innovation Technology & Entrepreneurship Among Middle Schoolers camp. The second session ends today.

"Our goal is to inspire and develop future technologists, engineers and entrepreneurs," said Kim Bowman, executive director of the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics.

The Governor's School started the program last summer with funds from Google.

"We have several Googlers here acting as mentors," said Jeff Stevenson, a technical program manager from Google. "We can be geeky and still be cool and have fun," he said with a laugh.

Throughout the day Wednesday, students rotated through three different activities that involved creative thinking and problem-solving.

One station, called "Geocache," entailed them using GPS to find small objects hidden throughout the campus. "People would post coordinates of the items, and then the students would go and find them," said Dan Warden, a teaching assistant.

The students also would work in a computer lab and use a computer program to make simple video games and commercials for other students to evaluate.

"It's not really advanced, but it's amazing what they've accomplished," said Francisco Rodriguez, a business education teacher from Stratford High School. "They only had one day and a half to put it together, so it's very impressive what they can do."

The third station was a "Going Green" relay in which two teams would place items in either reusable, recyclable or trash-labeled boxes.

"This activity shows the different impacts that materials make on the world if they are reused, recycled or trashed," said Herbert Joyner, an algebra teacher from St. Stephen Middle School.

The students were excited about the things they were learning. "This program benefits by teaching me technology and applications that I didn't know about," said Alexia Teachey, a rising ninth-grader.

Bowman said that she hopes the students will enhance economic development in South Carolina. "We hope the students will go to college and establish careers in South Carolina," she said. "That's why we want to invest in the smart kids today."