Mandatory classes may be over, but some Sierra Vista students are back in the classroom for summer camp.

Cochise College summer camps kicked off this week with their Robotics, Quadcopter and for the first time, 3D Printing classes. Virginia Thompson and art instructor at Cochise College chose to run and offer a 3D printing and virtual reality camp for kids in fourth through sixth grade.

“The engineering camps do well and the art camps do well, so I thought something in the middle will do very well,” she said. “We are very excited about the virtual reality because many of the kids haven’t been in an interactive environment.”

Being able to offer the kids a virtual reality experience want the pivotal key in Thompson’s decision to host the camp.

“I was worried about the kids sitting for four days but the virtual reality is what really made me want to do it,” she said. “It allows the kids to change modes. Instead of clicking the mouse, they get a change of pace.”

On Tuesday, the 10 students got their first tastes of Oculus, which is an interactive virtual reality. The students, two at a time, put on the goggles and attempted to create sculptures without running into the eagerly awaiting peers.

When not in the simulated 3D environment, the rest of the group uses computer animated designed software to create chess or checker pieces that Thompson would print on the college’s 3D printers.

“I think it’s just fun,” said 12-year-old Gregory Mitchell. “I like 3D modeling and creating new things and the software.”

Thompson said the idea for the camp came from the community interest she has received since the college obtained the printers four years ago. She says she receives emails asking if community members can use or learn about the 3D printers. She refers them to places they can gain that information since the college’s printers aren’t for public use.

Thompson capped the camp at 10 students because she wanted to be able to actively help each of the students if they needed help. While some of the campers have experience with the software and coding — like Mitchell — others were seeing an using the programs for the first time, like 9-year-old Bella Vista student Brayden Belwess.

“(This camp) gives me an opportunity to do something I love,” he said. “I really like that we are actually able to print 3D things instead of just learning about it. This camp is the funnest camp I’ve done in Sierra Vista and I’ve done a lot of them.”


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