It’s only five days—but it might as well be five universes. In the Girls Electronic Arts Retreat (GEAR), held from June 12-16 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Oberlin, TIMARA professor Abby Aresty leads third to fifth grade girls in technological journeys to worlds big and small, other times, and even other dimensions. Campers undertake collaborative, hand-on projects with a wide variety of software, mixed media, and technology. It’s arts-and-crafts, but with a sci-fi spin.
GEAR is unique every year, and past projects have taken campers to prehistoric worlds, time-traveling spaceships, and even their own planets (made of projections, papier-mâché, and kid-sized inflatable beach balls). They have access to Oberlin’s whole campus, and they have created creatures on 3D printers, used the letterpress printing machines in Mudd Library, and programmed machines to cut out their own detailed stickers.
The program is part of Oberlin's idyllic summers, when the college-aged students are off on summer ventures, and the campus is opened to another kind of experience. A wide range of students—from elementary through adult, and from the local area to visitors from across the country—come for the opportunity to experience music making in introductory and enrichment programs that cover historic performance to electronic and digital music as well as immersive study in a number of instruments.
GEAR students might be seen roaming around campus with headphones and field recorders to make sound collages, or on an excursion to the biology building to make stop-motion videos using free iPad apps. Or they could be in the TIMARA basement making “R2-D2” sounds on Oberlin’s collection of vintage synths. The possibilities are endless, and every hour there’s something new.
Past campers have enjoyed GEAR for how it combines imagination and learning. One camper shares, “I liked to pretend that the entire room we were in with the synthesizers was a time machine.” Another adds, “It was so fun. You learn so many things about science, technology, and the world. Plus you get to make awesome friends and memories.”
GEAR fosters a love and talent for technology in girls at a young age, and shows them that their only limit is their imagination. And after the collaborative journeys campers undertake, they’re sure to come away with a new set of friends, and most likely a whole new set of ideas that will inspire them throughout the year.
One parent shared, “Thank you for a great camp! My child came home with lots of stories and projects each day.” And there’s sure to be even more this summer in GEAR 2023.
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