The art of making stuff

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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

Kids are natural tinkerers. Whether it's making toys, games, videos or marshmallow catapults, kids love to make stuff.

To that end, the Youth Media Program at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside is offering a summer day camp called "Maker Madness." Geared for ages 11-13, it promises to take those creative skills up a notch. Throughout the week youngsters can learn how to create basic circuits, hone their woodworking skills, create robots out of recycled materials and program video games in an app called Scratch.

"This camp is designed to get kids' hands on all kinds of tools and materials -- from the digital to the physical," says Tricia George, the camp's instructor. "They get to explore the idea of 'making' very broadly with us," she says. So they cover making games, she explains, but they also cover other skills, including a basic understanding of programming logic, electrical engineering and familiarity with woodworking tools. They also practice computer-based research, project planning and collaboration with peers.

Ms. George has worked for nearly a decade teaching media production to school-age children. She grew up on a farm in Ohio and moved to Pittsburgh for college, first earning her associate of science degree in video production from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. She went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree in community organizing from the University of Pittsburgh.

Besides being the senior instructor of the Youth Media Program at PF/PCA, Ms. George is also the outreach manager. She is partnering with South Hills Interfaith Ministries to teach young refugee teens how to create videos that help start meaningful conversations.

"Youth should be empowered to analyze and use media," says Ms. George. "Its influence is only growing."

The "Maker Madness" art camp runs July 14-18, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To register: 412-388-2222 or

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