A Super Smart camp production

Angie Terrell, center, helps some of the children prepare to play the violin at the Star Center Super Smart Summer Camp 2013 Music and Dance Recital & Academic Fair at the Thomas Center.

LEE FERINDEN/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 2:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 2:50 p.m.

The nearly 200 people who attended the Super Smart Summer Camp 2013 Music and Dance Recital & Academic Fair were treated to eclectic performances that included children singing, dancing, playing musical selections on violin, recorder and keyboard, and performing creative dance movements with math raps and science experiments in the mix.

The recital, which was the culmination of the three-week Super Smart Summer Camp attended by 38 boys and girls ages 6-16 and sponsored by the Star Center Children’s Theatre, showcased what the campers had learned. It was held last Thursday at the Thomas Center.

Rhonda Wilson, artistic director and drama instructor for the camp, was pleased with the turnout and the children’s performances. “The kids showcased what they learned at camp,” Wilson said. “They were wonderful and their family and the community came out to support them.”

The campers appeared poised and confident as they performed individually and in groups.

They played the keyboard, the recorder, and the violin, sang the Greek alphabet, performed creative dance movements and engineering and science experiments. They rapped and sang to math and science concepts. And Friday, the campers gave their last performance until next year’s camp.

The elementary school-age children performed “How to Eat Like A Child and Other Lessons in Not Being a Grown-UP,” a musical/comedy play about being a child, while middle and high school students performed “Once On This Island Jr.,” a one-act musical with a Caribbean flavor.

The camp’s curriculum included STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, which consists of infusing the arts into academics. And at the recital, campers showed what they learned about oceans, continents, the water cycle, coral reefs and more by singing a capella and rapping.

They played a Jeopardy-style game about the Statue of Liberty that included audience participation and they conducted an experiment to determine what brand of toilet paper is stronger by pouring drops of water on the paper sheets. In another experiment, they clapped their hands under water in a glass bowl to determine if sound could be heard. Campers performed a math rap adopted from the late Gloria Merriex’s Math Rap. Merriex was a math teacher at Duval Elementary School.

James Oliverio, director of the University of Florida Digital Worlds Institute, shared memories of Merriex and spoke about her successful teaching technique that incorporated movement and rap to teach math. “They were so intent in that math,” Oliverio said. “They were excited and it’s not often you see that enthusiasm.”

The recital and the camp garnered high praise.

Tyona Grant, a seventh-grader at Howard Bishop Middle School, said this is her third year in the camp, and she wants to come back next summer.

“It’s fun,” said Tyona. “There is a lot to do. We do academics and we have a lot of opportunities to express ourselves playing music, dancing and playing recorder and the violin.”

Gloria Sanchez, Tyona’s aunt, said it’s amazing to see what the children accomplished in just three weeks of camp. “This camp gives them confidence,” Sanchez said.

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