Under the guidance of instructor Tim McGuire, students in Newtown Continuing Education’s Introduction to Computer Programming Using Scratch 2.0 recently worked to create computer games. The camp drew 15 students this year, including a number of returning campers from previous years or from other computer camps offered this summer. During the Introduction to Computer Programming Using Scratch 2.0, the students used Scratch, a computer programming software developed by the MIT Media Lab, to design games or animations.
The Board of Education approved The Avielle Foundation’s Spark Project as a pilot for the 2015-16 school year during its meeting on Thursday, July 30. The Spark Project is a program of The Avielle Foundation, and it is an initiative to develop social-emotional learning, leadership, and compassion skills on a communitywide basis and beyond. Following a presentation by Avielle Foundation Co-Founder Jeremy Richman in May, Newtown Public Schools Recovery Project Director Judy Blanchard and Mental Health Advisor Melissa Brymer reviewed different aspects of the Spark Project and presented that information to the board last week.
The last day of the July session of the Dagorhir Fantasy Camp was Friday, July 17, and there were many campers ready for a full day of role play and fantasy-based games. Andrew Mangold has been running the camp for the past seven years. Each month, there is a one-week session, from 10 am to 1 pm. This session hosts 24 campers. “I did this with my friends for fun in high school,” said Mr Mangold. “After playing in the parks we started organizing it; it was everything the kids were already doing.” The ultimate goal, said Mr Mangold, is to build up enough profit from a number of projects to create a permanent space for the camp. “Use this space to make a lifelong space for the camp where the castles would be permanent, where there’s orchards and gardens and everything that these campers could want to live in these worlds is there for them, he said. "There could be sleepaway, and we wouldn’t have to imagine castles, we could be inside of them.”
Newtown Continuing Education's WeDo Robotics camp had campers working under the watchful eye of Reed Intermediate School computer teacher Tim McGuire. The WeDo Robotics camp, according to the description from Newtown Continuing Education, provides “participants the opportunity to design simple robots with working motors and sensors. Students will explore core STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as they build and program the robots using the Scratch application.” “The STEM skills are evident throughout this camp,” said Mr McGuire. “The technology is the programming, the engineering is the building, and there’s a lot of math involved. The kids have to use math to program the robots through the Scratch system.”
The Board of Education has appointed a Shelton woman as the assistant superintendent for the public school system. Following a July 30 executive session, at which they discussed hiring a person to fill the position created by the recent resignation of Linda Gejda, school board members voted to hire Jean M. Evans Davila, who would leave her post as a Norwalk school administrator to become Newtown’s assistant school superintendent. School Board Chair Keith Alexander Thursday evening said board members are very pleased with Ms Davila’s wide range of experience. Ms Davila said she hopes to start her Newtown position by mid-August.
A number of Newtown representatives attended an American Federation of Teachers conference in Washington, DC, earlier this month to speak about ongoing climate and culture work in the district. According to Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, who attended and spoke at the conference, the Newtown Federation of Teachers executive board members who also attended the conference shared a “powerful presentation,” which was called “We Are All in This Together.” Tom Kuroski, reflecting on the event, said he and the other local board members spoke about district efforts to transform the state of the teachers union, and explained the work of the Climate and Culture Committee.
As the first week of the second session of Newtown Continuing Education’s SMART camp wound down on Friday, July 24, students were busy working in each of the classes available for the summer program. Stephanie Schwartz, the program’s site supervisor, said the second session of the Summer, Music, and Art (SMART) camp has 90 students attending it. The first session of SMART ran July 6-July 17, and the second session began July 20 and is scheduled to conclude July 31.
Students worked in Newtown Parks and Recreation's Drawing and Mixed Media camp for local children on Wednesday, July 15. The classes are taught by Chuck Fulkerson and his assistant Sophie Pizzo. The first class, which ran for a week, was a small group, but a good and talented group, according to Mr Fulkerson.
Young gaming enthusiasts clicked away on Wednesday, July 8, at Minecraft Gameplay camp, offered through Newtown Continuing Education, in the Reed Intermediate School’s computer lab.
This past week Tim McGuire, the computer technology teacher at Reed, led 15 students grades five and above through the world of Minecraft, a popular computer and video game.
Minecraft, released in 2009 by Swedish programmer Mojang, has sold more than 20 million copies on personal computers and Macs, according to its website, minecraft.net.