Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Michael Nolan works on creating an "app" for a handheld tablet on Wednesday morning at Georgia Gwinnett College's Tech Camp.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Longtime friends Gaelle Teyssier and Alex Dean usually attend an overnight summer camp together.
This year, the 13-year-old technology lovers decided to attend Georgia Gwinnett College's Tech Camp instead. Hosted by the college's School of Science and Technology, the camp is a hands-on, experience-based week of exposure to the computing future.
Gaelle and Alex are attending the co-ed camp for rising ninth- and 10th-graders. Both girls said they are interested in studying computer programming at Georgia Tech after finishing high school.
"I like the fact that you can do anything with programming," Alex said. "It's the only thing where you can make something from nothing."
At the high school camp, students are designing mobile applications -- like the ones that can be used on smart phones -- using a program called App Inventor.
Jasmine Sylvain, who is attending Tech Camp for the second summer, said she was enjoying learning how to create apps. Last year, in the middle school program, she built and programmed a robot.
"The robots were really fun," she said. "We built them ourselves and programmed them to walk forward and turn. ... It's nice to come here and learn more about technology."
Jasmine, Gaelle and Alex all said they think more girls would be interested in the camp. The college, however, has had a hard time recruiting girls for the summer program.
"It's a fun camp experience, but they have no idea of the types of things that we do," said Nanette Napier, an assistant professor of information technology and the co-director of Tech Camp. "(The girls) don't associate themselves with information technology."
The co-ed camp, which ends Friday, is comprised mostly of boys. Out of about 40 students, only five are girls.
Next week's camp for middle school boys has reached capacity, but the camp for middle school girls -- scheduled from June 27 to July 1 -- still has 10 spaces available, Napier said.
The low ratio of girls at Tech Camp can also be found in the work place and within GGC's information technology program. Napier said that's something she'd like to see change.
"You have to encourage them (to study technology)," she said. "Technology is everywhere, and IT can be applied to other areas. No matter what you're doing, technology is a part of it. A background in it is essential so you don't get left behind."
For rising seventh- and eighth-graders interested in attending Tech Camp later this month, more information is available online at hercules.ggc.edu/ggctechcamp. The program fee is $185, which includes the application fee, plus instruction from a GGC professor, supplies and an afternoon snack.