Media Contact:Stu Vincent
Send an E-mail
Date: May 19, 2009
Computer Science Professor Gretchen Ostheimer Holds Brooklyn Computer Camp for Kids
Mobilizes students, community residents to donate time and space to give kids high-tech learning experience
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY – For the second consecutive summer, Hofstra Computer Science Professor Gretchen Ostheimer, Ph.D., is offering kids in her Brooklyn neighborhood the chance to spend part of their summer learning how to write computer programs.
The free computer camp will run June 29 through July 3, from 1-4 p.m. at the Sheep Station, a neighborhood restaurant and pub on the corner of 4th Avenue and Douglass Street that is donating space and an afternoon snack. Another neighborhood resident and Web programmer is also donating his time, as are some of Dr. Ostheimer's Hofstra students, who will travel to Brooklyn to mentor the neighborhood kids.
"Last summer the camp surpassed all our expectations," said Dr. Ostheimer. "It was fun to watch the kids actually writing their own computer programs, and it was great to see what a galvanizing influence it had on the neighborhood. We had been thinking of it as a one-off thing, but when the kids started to hound us to do it again, well, we couldn't resist."
Last year, about a dozen children ranging in age from 8 to 12, more than half of them Hispanic and almost half of them girls, participated in the camp. Many of them would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn computer skills at this level.
Dr. Ostheimer described her block as "one of those tight-knit Brooklyn blocks where the kids all play together on the sidewalk while the parents hang out together on a stoop to keep an eye on them." She launched the camp last summer to teach neighborhood children how to write computer programs in Python, the language taught to freshman in Hofstra’s Computer Science Department. Hofstra supported the project by providing and imaging the computers, and Dr. Ostheimer received support for the project from Provost Herman Berliner; Dean Bernard Firestone of the Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Robert Juckiewicz, Vice President for Information Technology. This summer, Dr. Ostheimer has also applied for grants.
Dr. Ostheimer earned her Bachelor of Arts in mathematics in 1979 from Wellesley College. After working in a variety of software engineering jobs in the United States, England and Canada, she entered the graduate program in mathematics at Rutgers University in 1989 and completed her Ph.D. in 1996. She joined the computer science faculty at Hofstra in 1999, after three years as an associate professor of mathematics at Tufts University.
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution where students can choose from about 150 undergraduate and more than 160 graduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, business; engineering; communication; education, health and human services; and honors studies, as well as a School of Law. With a student-faculty ratio of 14-to-1, our professors teach small classes averaging 22 students that emphasize interaction, critical thinking and analysis. Hofstra offers a faculty whose highest priority is teaching excellence. The University also provides excellent facilities with state-of-the-art technology, extensive library resources and internship programs that match students’ interests and abilities with appropriate companies and organizations. The Hofstra community is driven, dynamic and energetic, helping students find and focus their strengths to prepare them for a successful future.