July 30, 2014 at 1:00 am

Summer camp gives Detroit students a boost in STEM education

Students, from left, Kennedy Robinson, Royshawn Butler and Christion Henderson, all 16, of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit get help from India Fields, right, with Photoshop for a project as Kelly Services employee Erinn Studier watches. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)

Troy— Christion Henderson tapped the keys on his laptop, creating a Mario Brothers-type video game.

But he wasn’t just having fun. He was learning skills involving science, technology, engineering and math as part of a three-week summer camp session that runs through Thursday at Kelly Services headquarters.

“I’d like to become a game programmer and an entrepreneur when I graduate from college, so these skills are important to learn right now,” said Christion, 16, an 11th-grader at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter high school in Detroit.

Christion and seven classmates are participating in the camp hosted by Kelly Services, a consulting and temporary staffing company. The students are learning how to create a pixel software application, as well as learning career preparedness that includes mock interviews and resume writing.

School founder, board president and former NBA star Jalen Rose said he wants to provide students with a private school education in an inner-city school.

“Kelly Services was gracious enough to allow the students to enrich their outside classroom learning, and give them something productive to do in July,” said Rose, whose school is open 11 months a year. “We are trying to create the city’s next work force.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the demand for STEM professionals will grow almost 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, adding nearly 1.3 million new STEM-related jobs.

Doug Ross, president of American Promise Schools, a nonprofit school management organization that manages the Rose academy, said he met with Kelly Services executives and explained the school’s goals.

“We’re working together so that next summer, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy students will be able to go into internships in STEM areas at various local companies, and Kelly Services will get a new crop of students, about 25, to participate in the summer STEM camp,” Ross said.

Tammy Klugh, vice president of diversity and inclusion for Kelly Services, said students will present their completed projects before the company’s staff at the camp’s conclusion.

“We have a lot of staff members who have been working with the students, and they’ll be able to see their work,” she said. “The students then will be able to put their video games on a thumb drive and take them home.”

Lori Autrey, executive director of Pixel It Graphics and Training in Detroit, instructed the students how to create the video game.

“They’re learning animation, math, coding, storyboarding and how to create characters,” she said. “It’s not only about playing a game. People have careers just creating characters, or just coloring the characters, and they can start out earning $80,000.”

Jiyah Pitt, 15, already plans to become a pediatrician. But after creating her own video game, she’s thinking of adding those skills to her resume.

“This has been a great experience,” said the 11th-grader. “I want to go into medicine, but now I’m actually thinking about doing this, too, because you can do way more than you think you can if you just put your mind to it.”

slewis@detroitnews.com
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