Computer skills are so important in today’s world. But how much are kids actually learning in school? Auburn University’s Computer Science and Software Engineering Department is hosting Robo Camp to help kids ages 10-18 learn computer skills, introduce advanced concepts and learn about programming and robotics.

Most middle school and high school computer classes just deal with basic program knowledge. Microsoft Office is what most schools concentrate on. So when students are deciding on a college major computer science might not be their strongest subject. Auburn’s Computer Science and Software Engineering Department will help students learn new skills that will help them now and in the future.

Students that enroll in Auburn University’s Robo Camp will learn many new skills that will help them work with other students as well as work on assignments by themselves. Robo Camp staff will help reinforce knowledge of PC hardware, software architecture, Windows Vista, Internet and the World Wide Web. The camp will be going above and beyond what students normally learn in school.

One of the important programs taught at Robo Camp will be the Alice Programming System created by Carnegie Mellon University. The Alice system is an innovative 3D learning tool for students to create a story, play a game or create an interactive video.

Lego Mindstorms will also be used at Robo Camp. Students will use Lego Mindstorms to create things such as robots and other electric or motor using things. The Robotics Invention System will also be used when students are working with robots and robot building. A CRS-A255 robot will be used to help teach students more advanced uses and concepts for robotics and computer programming.

Another area of Robo Camp that students will be particularly interested in is the game development portion. Auburn Robo Camp instructors will use Zune and ZNA Framework to teach game development.

The gaming portion of the camp will probably be the most popular. Brian Harvey, store manager of GameStop in Opelika, says around 30 middle school to high school age kids come in daily to buy video games. Harvey commented that he never really learned much about computers when he was in middle school and high school and most kids that come into the store are in the same boat he was in. Harvey says Playstation and Xbox games are their biggest sellers, so kids aren’t buying just computer games anymore.

An important issue Harvey discussed was the economy. Despite a rough time for most industries the gaming industry hasn’t taken a hit like other companies. Harvey says that people are looking for a cheap way to entertain themselves so gaming hasn’t taken a hit. Students deciding on a major are faced with the question of whether the economy will be good for their job market. The computer science and software engineering degree at Auburn will definitely be a good decision because of the mostly unaffected market.

Robo Camp will be held six Saturday’s starting Feb. 7, 2009. Robo Camp will give students plenty of time to develop new skills and give them time between each camp day to work on these skills and better understand what they have learned.

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