Blog  Session 2 TECHtalks: Innovation, Discovery, Curiosity and Connection

Session 2 TECHtalks: Innovation, Discovery, Curiosity and Connection

Session 2 TECHtalks: Innovation, Discovery, Curiosity and Connection

By Brett Lubarsky, Director of Communications and Machon

This past Saturday night, we gathered together in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) to celebrate another amazing session with our second edition of TECHtalks for Summer 2017. On of the highlights of each session, TECHtalks give our campers the opportunity to present and celebrate their innovations and inventions from their workshops, and check out what their friends have learned and created.

Our opening to TECHtalks in the PAC included a presentation from the mishlachat, our delegation of Israeli counselors, and a presentation from each lead instructor about their workshop. After a delicious dinner, we resumed TECHtalks presentations in the hockey rink with science-fair style exhibits from each workshop. We concluded with a Session 2 slideshow, and a havdalah service where campers from each hall shared their thoughts on the session. As campers left the hockey rink, many were already talking about coming back to camp next summer! We’re counting the days…, but in the meantime, enjoy these videos and photos!

3D Animation

What goes into the creation of an animated bouncing ball? Throughout the session, campers learned the complex science and programming behind what may appear to be a simple concept. Creating a multitude of styles and environments, campers explored and implemented different approaches to animation and shared their work with their friends!

BioZone MD

BioZone MD was a fantastic workshop that emphasized medical diagnoses and patient centered cases. We accomplished a lot in the past 2 weeks! First, we learned about proper history taking in order to take a history of our first “patient” who presented with generalized weakness. Overall, we had three patients who presented to us with a very general list of symptoms. As doctors, we accomplished history taking, physical exam, and proper assessment and plan to diagnose and treat our patients! Some of the activities we learned included a Neurologic Exam, blood smear observation, urinalysis, ultrasound, endoscopies, colonoscopies, and reading X-Rays and CT scans. In the midst of diagnosing our patients, we constantly talked about the doctor’s duty to help the patient and how helping one person to help the world aligns with Jewish beliefs. Additionally, the topic of organ donation and varying opinions was discussed with campers and visiting faculty. It was a whirlwind of medicine, faith, and everything in between in BioZone!

Digital Film Production

Earth & Sky

The focus of Earth & Sky this summer is astronomy and astrophysics, and it was out of this world! Campers started off the session defining the universe by the basic forces that hold it together — the strong nuclear force, the weak force, electromagnetism, and gravity. We did experiments showing the strength (or lack thereof) of each force, and how they are used in observing the universe. We moved on to planetary exploration, and what we have learned about our own Solar System and the bodies in it. We even learned two ways to safely view the upcoming total solar eclipse! Finally, since all of our workshops were during the day, we made a planetarium so all of camp could view the night sky, complete with constellations and a projection show!


Forensics workshop was such a blast this session! We role-played as forensic scientists to learn about a variety of forensic sub-disciplines while investigating human bones found in the woods at camp. While investigating the case, we learned about how to properly secure a crime scene and collect evidence. We learned about and then recreated activities performed by forensic anthropologists, psychologists, ballistics examiners, and trace evidence analysts. Other days included activities related to blood spatter, DNA, fibers and hairs, and impression evidence. Your child learned to fingerprint suspects, lift fingerprints off of evidence, collect footwear impressions from the ground, and use the Reid police interrogation techniques to uncover deception. We made lots of messes to understand how to retrace offenders’ actual steps and psychological motivations to bring justice to the world.

This session, our students were cohesive as a collective and each brought their collective life experiences, personal skills, and theoretical insights to class to solve a murder case. This year’s investigation started with revelation of bones found in a shallow grave on campus. The case connected in mysterious ways to last years’ investigation, so students from summer 2016 explained the strange details of the previous year’s missing person case to our new students. All students were also filled in by “news reports” by Nadia Newsworthy on channel 6 On Point News. While learning investigative skills on the job, our students were able to follow the clues, analyze the evidence, and reveal that our victim, later identified as Michael Trippinfall, was the brother of the missing person from last year’s investigation, Tom Trippinfall. We were then able to bring the offender to justice, but capturing the offender has only revealed more unanswered questions about a secret society for next summer!

Programming & Coding

In Programming and Coding, the campers learned the fundamentals of programming and how to code in Java! We learned programming concepts, starting with getting the computer to say “Shalom World!”, and built up to variable types, conditionals, and loops. Then, we started building desktop applications using Swing, a Java library for making Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs). This led into the final projects, where the campers created a desktop application of their choice. We saw a whole spectrum of final projects, from games and quizzes to problem-solving showcases, which were showcased to all of camp at Tech Talks!


Video Game Design

During this session, campers in the Videogame Design workshop collaborated in small teams to design and develop a new game of their own choosing. Starting with an exploration of key game design elements, campers reflected on how games incorporate problem-solving along with Jewish principles and practices such as sakranut (curiosity), taglit (discovery), and savlanut (patience). After investigating the available development tools, campers forged connections (kesher!) by teaming up for the session-long project. Just like professional game designers, they brainstormed a game concept and tested it by making a tabletop mock-up. In the main phase of the project, campers used the digital tools to create and play-test a working prototype of their game, while documenting their development difficulties and triumphs in our wiki; even if using an already-familiar tool, campers extended their proficiency with it. Finally, at the conclusion of the session, each team wrote and performed a “pitch”/demo presentation in front of their fellow designers.

Jewish Life at Camp

Session 2 at URJ Six Points Sci-Tech Academy has officially surpassed any of our expectations! It has been an unbelievable two weeks for Jewish life at camp and we’ve seen Jewish values and traditions integrated into nearly every single aspect of camp life. On Shabbat, our campers have been involved in our services like never before, from leading blessings to chanting Torah. We’ve had campers create art reflecting the our core Jewish values and lead our community in song. We’ve been able to dig into our weekly Torah portions and find connections to the scientific world through our “Sci-Tech Torah.” On Yom Yisrael (Israel Day), our camp community played Israeli games, discussed hot topic issues in the State of Israel, and had an “Amazing Race” competition to explore the land and people of Israel through the eyes of our Mishlachat, our Israeli staff delegation. But our Jewish engagement does not stay confined to our specific Jewish programming. Each day, all eight workshops were joined by rabbis, cantors, and professional Jewish educators from around the country who helped ensure that we never leave our Jewish values behind when we engage in scientific discovery.

* * *

Saturday night was a special celebration of our kehilah kedoshah (holy community), and a fun and meaningful way to end an incredible first session of the summer. After celebrating all of the amamazing tagliyot (discoveries) and kesharim (connections) made this session, we honored our tenth grade campers and pioneer Machonikim (counselors-in-training) for their leadership and contributions to our community.

And…of course…no TECHtalks is complete without a session recap in the form of a slideshow! Thanks for an amazing second session, everyone!

Author: Brett Lubarsky

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