Tue | Jul 17, 2018

Tech-ing charge with Tech Camp JA

Published:Monday | July 25, 2016 | 12:00 AMKrysta Anderson
William Howell keeps his audience engaged during his presentation.
Camper Lateefa Smellie putting her public speaking training to good use as she makes a presentation at lasy year's open day.
A group of campers in class at Tech Camp Jamaica.
Mark Scott of Tech Camp Jamaica.

When it comes to electronic devices, it's no secret that teens and preteens are often found glued to them.

But what if there was a way for them to learn and grow by using said technology? Well, that's where Tech Camp Jamaica comes in.

Flair caught up with part owner of the organisation, Mark Scott, who told us about his innovative initiative.

Growing up in the inner-city community of Waterhouse, Scott had always been fascinated by technology. He recalled his heydays in school, trying to come up with algorithms to figure out how to create Digicel phonecards. "When it came to learning, the chalk and talk method of teaching was one that did not work for me - computers, on the other hand did," he told Flair.

After his failed attempts at secondary-level academic pursuits, he turned to technology as his refuge, and it was there that he had a life-changing breakthrough. The result - he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science at the University of the West Indies and went on to become a database administrator at the Electoral Office of Jamaica, at Salary.com, and working as the consultant for the special projects manager at CVM. Since then, he has used his acquired knowledge to 'tech' on the entrepreneurial challenge of creating his own business.

How did he achieve all of this? By a blended learning technique of theory matched with pragmatic approaches - something he currently offers at his tech camp.

At Tech Camp Jamaica, campers are introduced to creating new and exciting world of technology in creating animation, apps and websites. They are also taught how to apply technology to their everyday learning. "We strongly believe in teaching technology as well as teaching with technology," he stressed.

Campers are divided into two categories - tiny coders, which range from ages four to eight years old, and teen coders - nine to 17 years old.

So far he has already trained 200 students and is planning to fulfil his mission of taking that number up to 10,000. "Our ultimate goal is to use coding to help students to focus - the number one trait for children to learn. Once we have tapped into that, we would thereby help to stimulate not only a fundamental but an entrepreneurial knowledge from the primary stages of development, increasing their chances at greater earning potential. The unemployment line is getting longer, so let's empower our children with the proper armour to fight that from early," he said.

The child from Waterhouse shouldn't be more deprived than those from Jack's Hill - a mantra both he and his business partner, Euan Walters, continue to live by. Both grew up in Waterhouse, and learnt early to appreciate education.

"In applying the learning technique to the specific needs of each and every student and teaching them accordingly, we find that their confidence grows tremendously. We provide a comfortable environment for them to work in, all the while building trust, not only with the students but with partners such as University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica Parent-Teacher Association and Soctiabank, just to name a few."

He continued, "We also work closely with the parents so that every child that walks into camp can maximise their full potential. At the end of each module, there's a public speaking program where campers present to their friends, family members, peers and authorities within the industry about what they have created."

And the success stories which have emerged as a result of their approach are amazing. One student, he noted, actually recouped her camp fee plus profit, by selling the website she built on tennis, to her tennis coach.

Camp runs from August 2-18 at the UWI Mona campus and at Deokoro Magnet School for the Gifted and Talented in Barbican,, so if you are interested on tech-ing charge for your child, then you can contact them on their website www.techcampjamaica.com.