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DesignCamp Celebrates 10 Years of Inspiring Creativity


Weeklong Workshops for Students in Grades 5 Through 11 Begin Monday, July 6

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ Motorized pencil sharpeners, electric pets, home security systems, stereo speakers, even an automatic Kool-Aid maker. Those are just some of the examples of the projects that students in UMass Lowell’s DesignCamp have produced over the last decade.

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of UMass Lowell’s flagship DesignCamp summer program. Launched with 55 students in 2000 by Douglas Prime, DesignCamp has grown over the years to host 2,200 students in grades five through 11 in more than 4,000 camp slots. The program now offers a dozen workshops each summer engaging up to 550 students annually.

DesignCamp’s weeklong sessions run throughout July and include workshops from “Electric Jungle,” “Carnival Contraptions” and “Robo Alley” to “Crime Science,” “Architect’s Studio” and “Interactive Worlds,” a video-game design workshop.

For students who are interested in participating in DesignCamp this summer, there are still spaces available. And thanks to the generous financial support of companies like Raytheon, Goodrich, Tyco Electronics, 3M, Millipore, and the Cabot Corp., more scholarships for students are available than in past years. An estimated 40 percent of campers will receive support, including more partial scholarships for families facing difficult economic times.

DesignCamp and its sister program DesignLab, seek to engage students in fun and challenging science and technology projects unlike anything that is typically experienced in schools.

“One of the secrets to really motivating students to learn is to choose projects and problems that are inherently interesting to students and relevant to their lives,” says Prime, executive director of UMass Lowell’s Future Engineers Center, which offers both programs.

The camp appeals to both boys and girls. Typically, girls account for more than 30 percent of camp enrollment, which Prime attributes to the program’s work to create design projects that appeal to all youths. Rather than simply offering the chance to build cars or robots, DesignCamp participants use the same technology and concepts to create unique projects like spin-art machines and automated candy dispensers.

The camp has also proven to be a strong beginning for young people who go on to study engineering and other sciences. Prime reports that “at UMass Lowell alone, more than 5 percent of the freshmen engineering class has been comprised of students who got their start in DesignCamp and other K-12 education programs offered through the College of Engineering.”

The first session of DesignCamp starts July 6. Parents and students interested in UMass Lowell’s DesignCamp summer program should visit Design Camp, e-mail, or call 978-934-4690. For more on the UMass Lowell Future Engineers Center, check out UML Future Engineers.

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For more information, contact or 978-934-3224