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Media classes sharpen kids' focus

If your child likes taking pictures, shooting video or designing websites, a digital media class can turn that interest into a hobby or even a career down the road.

“Technology is just so broad right now and it affects so many different parts of our lives that there are many ways to use technology to express yourself and be creative and collaborative,” says Tracey Welson-Rossman, founder of Tech Girlz — a volunteer group of information technology professionals who offer hands-on classes for girls in grades 6-9.

Learning about technology and art “builds confidence, helps kids solve problems and helps them think out of the box, even in math and science,” says Heather Jo Wingate, director of pre-college programs at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. “It helps them think outside of that normal structure.”

Where to find digital media classes
Delaware    |    Pennsylvania    |  Online

Classes for preteens

Although most digital media classes are geared toward teens or adults, there are courses for tweens as well. “I would encourage parents not to think that their kids are too young to try some of these classes,” says Anne Harrison, manager of children & youth programs at the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia.

Photo classes build brains

Why take a photography class when your teen’s point-and-shoot camera takes great pictures?

According to online photo instructor Wendi Lee, kids have to use the left (analytical) and right (intuitive) sides of their brains.

“The left side is the camera functions — how the ISO and the aperture and the shutter speed work together, “ she says. “But then they have to use the right side of their brain for the artistic, creative parts of photographing. It’s a good way to get their brains going and it’s fun for them.”

Beginner digital photography classes offer instruction in how to hold and set the camera and in basic Photoshop techniques. Some classes require participants to have a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, while others require only a simple point-and-shoot model. DSLR cameras can cost $500 or more.

Other creative digital media classes for tweens include computer art and creative technology, which can spur interest in graphic design. They introduce kids to the basics of creating artwork on the computer and to programs such as Photoshop. Elementary-age kids can learn to create their own web pages. In beginner animation classes, explore techniques such as stop motion.

Classes for teens

Teenagers have more options, with classes available on topics such as web design, digital photography, graphic design and digital cinematography.

Digital photography classes for teens teach about image manipulation and color correction in Photoshop. Classes can also include field trips to take pictures in photogenic areas of the city or to capture subjects such as Christmas lights.

Graphic design classes for teens focus on software tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, as well as creatively using typography, photo manipulation and styles such as collage and surrealism.

In cinematography and filmmaking classes, teens work in groups studying topics ranging from scriptwriting to camera and editing techniques. In these classes, “students learn how a project comes together,” says Dominick Defino, executive director of Filmtech, a Philadelphia-based film school.

To find a digital media class, check with local art centers listed in the Attractions Guide at Metrokids.com. Ask your community college about non-credit classes. High school guidance counselors can also help.

Where to Take Digital Media Classes

Delaware    |    Pennsylvania    |  Online

Delaware classes

Center for the Creative Arts
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row & Rte. 82, Yorklyn, DE 19736, 302-239-2434
The Center will offer Digital Photography for Teens and Up on Saturdays, Jan. 12-Feb. 16. Students may register online, by phone or in person.

Delaware Arts Conservatory
723 Rue Madora, Ste. 4, Bear, DE 19701, 302-595-4160
This performing arts school offers a 10-month digital photography class for ages 12 & older. Adults may attend.  Students learn the workingsof a digital single lens reflex camera, but students may a point-and-shoot camera. The class sometimes meets outdoors for photo sessions. Students can join at any time during the year. The fee is $60 per month. For more information follow Delaware Arts Conservatory on Facebook  and Twitter.

Delaware College Of Art And Design, A Creative Partnership of Pratt and the Corcoran
600 N Market St., Wilmington, DE 19801, 302-622-8867, ext. 110
The college offers a continuing education program geared toward older high school students. Jessica Sturgis, Director of Communications says, “What we see is students who are nearing the end of high school and are really starting to seriously think about pursuing art and design in college.”
Classes include Adobe software, web design fundamentals, digital photography, macro photography and iPhoneography. The 6-week winter semester begins Jan. 2 with a 12-week spring semester starting on Feb. 11. The course catalog for both semesters should appear online by the beginning of December. For more information on upcoming classes, follow DCAD on Facebook and Twitter.

Pennsylvania classes

Fleisher Art Memorial
719 Catherine St., Phila., PA 19147, 215-922-3456
Community art center offers free and paid art classes for children and teenagers. Upcoming classes include Digital photography for ages 11-13, Saturdays, Jan. 7-March 19; and Digital photography for ages 14-18, Saturdays, April 6-June 17. Most kids bring their own cameras but Fleisher has a few loaner cameras. A digital single lense reflex camera is not required. Tuition is free and lottery-based.
Fleisher also offers Pixilation Animation for ages 12-16, Jan. 7-March 19. There is a $170 fee. Fleisher offers a tuition assistance program.For more information on upcoming programs, follow Fleisher on Facebook and Twitter.

Filmtech — Philadelphia’s Independent Film School
2019 S. Juniper St., 2nd Fl., Phila., PA 19148

, 215-313-0123
Independent film and video production school offers acting and filmmaking programs specifically geared toward teens. Programs run throughout the year; classes start every month. Students learn everything from screenwriting to editing in this comprehensive video production program. The group shoots video at the school and in the surrounding neighborhood $995. Private, one-on-one instruction is also available at $50 an hour with a minimum of 15 hours required.

Main Line Art Center
746 Panmure Rd., Haverford, PA  19041, 610-525-0272
The Center hopes to have classes ready in the fall as part of its renovation project entitled, ART 75: Access. Renew. Transform. The project will create a collaborative space for computer design, printmaking, and photography as well as add a digital arts program with classes in photography, graphic design and illustration.

More Than Music DJ Institute
501 Cambria Ave. , Bensalem, PA 19020, 800-918-3052
Taught by DJ Lisa Love, these classes for ages 7-14 teach disc-jockey basics with beat matching, scratching with turntables and a controller (a simulated turntable). The Intensive Weekend DJ Course runs three times a month on Saturday and. The fee for $350. The One-Day, Four-Hour Crash Course takes place on Saturday or Sunday from 5pm to 9pm. $400.

Scribe Video Center
4212 Chestnut St., 3rd Fl., Phila., PA 19104, 215-222-4201
Non-profit organization provides training in all aspects of film, video and audio production and computer-based interactive media. The Center offers professional level workshops for participants of all ages as well as afterschool and summer youth workshops.
You can sign up to recieve the Center’s bi-weekly e-newsletter or to submit your mailing address to receive brochures.

Tech Girlz
This volunteer group of working information technology professionals offers hands-on classes for girls in grades 6-9. Workshops, which take place at various locations, provide a foundation to learn and explore and understand the fundamentals of technology in a community environment. Class sizes are limited and classes are free or low cost. Registration for classes posts to the website six weeks before classes start.
Upcoming workshops include HTML & CSS for Kids starting Jan. 26 at LaSalle University in Plymouth Meeting, PA for girls in grades 6-8,  and Programming with Kodu, the Xbox gaming language, starting Feb. 2 at Microsoft Corp in Malvern, PA. At least three other classes are planned from March-May.
Before attending events participants are asked to download a permission slip. For more information on upcoming classes follow the Tech Girlz on Facebook, and Twitter  or send an e-mail to to be added to the mailing list.

University of the Arts Pre-College Programs
320 S. Broad St. , Phila., PA 19102,215-717-6430
No prior art experience is required for these programs taught by working professionals for both grade school and high school. Classes for younger students include Computer Art for grades 4-6 and Creative Technology. Both courses are $100. The grade school program has a scholarship fund. Parents can download a $75 scholarship and teacher recommendation form.
High school programs include Animation, Digital Cinematography and Filmmaking, Digital Photography 1, Digital Photography 2, Graphic Design 1, Graphic Design 2 and Graphic Novels. The 10-week spring semester begins on Feb . 9 and runs through April 20 for both the grade school and high school programs. Grade school classes take place Saturdays from 10am-12noon and high school classes take place from 10am-1pm. High school classeses are $415. The high school program offers full and partial scholarships. Follow Pre-College Programs at The University of the Arts on Facebook.

Online classes

The Perfect Picture School of Photography
Online school offers beginner and intermediate classes open to teenagers in a low-pressure environment. The School’s most popular class, Understanding Exposure is an eight-week course, which focuses on shooting in manual exposure, the relationship between f/stops, shutter speeds and ISO. Students need a digital or film camera with full manual exposure mode. $395. Other classes for beginners run four weeks and cost $195. They include The Art of Seeing, Introduction to Food Photography, Creating Compelling Compositions, and Street Photography. For some classes a tripod or various lenses are recommended but not required. For more information current and upcoming classes follow PPSOP on Facebook.

Wendi Lee Photography Homeschool Photography Class for Kids
Offers classes for ages 7-12 ($35) and age 12 & older ($45) who are homeschooled and those who want to learn about photography as a hobby. Each session includes an instructional video  along with a Power Point presentation with assignments.   Classes normally run two to three weeks but students can work at their own pace

Carol Anne Pagilotti is a freelance writer and former calendar editor of MetroKids.

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