Play to learn: Digital Media Academy boosts girls’ tech, critical skills


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Twenty middle-school girls will learn from playing in designing their own entertainment during a two-week summer day camp at the University of Louisville.

    The Digital Media Academy students, who just completed fifth grade at three Jefferson County elementary schools, will spend June 6-17 becoming critical media consumers and producers. This year’s theme is “Hack Your Play.”

    The English department in the College of Arts and Sciences offers the free camp for students chosen from Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School, Cochran Elementary School and J.B. Atkinson Academy for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Verizon Foundation provided primary funding with supplemental support from the Thomas R. Watson Endowment.

     New this year are activities in the newly renovated Speed Art Museum’s Art Sparks creative space, where museum and camp officials are collaborating on a custom, hands-on lesson about setting up photo and video shoots and editing their creations.

    Camp leaders are five UofL graduate students working with English assistant professor Andrea Olinger to design, teach, operate and evaluate the camp; learn about meaningful team-teaching with technology; and later publish journal articles and share their research results.

    Begun in 2014, the academy is designed to increase the girls’ problem-solving and storytelling confidence and technological competence. Their team-produced projects – in media ranging from music to movies, skits to advertising — will be shown at the academy’s end. Students will receive iPod Touch devices to keep; the work also is intended to help combat the oft-cited summer slide in reading and writing skills, especially in transitioning to middle school.

    For more information, contact Olinger, 502-852-3051 or, or doctoral student Michelle Day, 502-807-7846 or


    Judy Hughes
    Judy Hughes is a senior communications and marketing coordinator for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing and associate editor of UofL Magazine. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.