Children learn about engineering through technology camp at Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- At the age of 12, Blake Sparks is learning how to fly a plane via a simulator.

"You don't want to go too high because if you do it will make a beeping noise and it can flip over," said Sparks.

It's difficult.

"Every time I try to land, I usually hit the road first," he said.

But if he steers it just right he might stick the landing.

"And it didn't land this has gone horribly wrong," said Sparks.

Because it's a simulator no one was hurt, although Sparks ego might be a tad bit bruised.

Not to worry, he has time to improve his piloting skills at Fresno State's Youth Technology Institute

"It's a different way of learning, so kids can wrap their mind around using technology and getting used to technology," said Kasey Vang Program coordinator.

This summer, about 160 kids grades first to eighth are enrolled in the camp and learning about engineering through coding, robotics, and other technologies.

This means piloting a plane via a simulator or throwing on a lab coat and mixing some chemicals. This year they are going to space through the theme of Journey to Mars.

"We try to create those environments even in the classroom," said Vang.

The camp funded by NASA's Aerospace Academy offers six classes. Children are learning how to program a robot. The summer camp just as beneficial for instructors as the children. Those leading the lessons are student teachers.

"I want to be a teacher, so this is the best kind of experience, you can have especially with the age group that I want to teach from first to second grade," said student teacher Sierra Vasquez.

For the next week, kids will continue to learn through STEM and Sparks will continue to work on his piloting. He is already made great strides.

"Before this would be on the floor or in a house," he said.

The camp is in demand and has a waitlist of 100 children. Another one is coming up August, but it's already full. They recommend anyone trying to get in to sign up as soon as it is announced.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.