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Computer geeks welcome at Riverview Elementary School

One of the members of Riverview Elementary School's Computer Club gets help with the video game he's creating from sixth grade volunteer Ethan Partida, standing.?Partida has been teaching younger students the program Scratch, which allows kids to develop their own video games.

It's okay to be a computer geek around Riverview Elementary School. In fact, there's even a club for you.

Twice a month, about 20 fourth and fifth grade students meet in the computer labs after school for computer club. It's a new club this year that has students teaching students, and students teaching adults, too.

Media center specialist Brook Berg started the RVES Computer Club this year for students who wanted to learn how to do some new, cool things on the computer.

Students are working their ways through two different projects in computer club. Some are working in Scratch, a program that enables them to create their own video games. Others are making movies using the program Animoto, which gives kids the chance to download pictures and put them to music for short online films.

A novice to some of the programs herself, Berg turned to a sixth grade student, Ethan Partida, to learn Scratch. Partida and a couple of his friends started using the program in third grade and became familiar enough with its offerings that he now comes in to mentor the fourth and fifth grade students.

"They're playing, and learning as they play," Berg said. "Once they come up with something new or cool, they all take a break so they can go see what it is."

Most of the time, Berg said, kids in computer club are learning much the same way Partida did - by trial and error. Some things work, some don't.

But that's kind of the point, Berg said. She encourages collaboration on projects, and she likes the idea of students sharing their newfound skills with one another.

"It's really just a free for all around here. They're all learning from each other. You hear, 'See what I did' all the time. It's really fun," Berg said.

The computer club members will eventually create both movies and video games. Berg figures they'll be comfortable enough with both Animoto and Scratch by February, that they'll be able to share their knowledge with second and third grade students.

The other benefit to computer club, she said, is that the students are together as a group, learning to use the Internet safely. The work they do is put up on the RVES YouTube site, but it is not accessible to the public. If the students want to share their work outside of the building, that's a decision between the students and their parents.

"I want them to do work collaboratively, to share ideas. This is more of a venue where they can play and learn in a safe place. Kind of geek out together," Berg said.

Plus, it's a chance for the like-minded, creative, curious, future computer-type to get together.

"I want them to be proud to be computer geeks," Berg said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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