As a TA for Jr. Adventures in Programming and Jr. Adventures in Minecraft, you wouldn’t know that Michael Maguire was a student himself at DMA just last year.
A seventeen-year-old aiming to study Sports Management when he graduates high school next year, Maguire is still eligible to take Teen tech courses at DMA.
But he realized that while learning new tech skills for the fourth summer in a row could be fun, he was looking for something even more fulfilling. So he decided to work as a TA instead to share the knowledge he’s learned over the years with the next generation of DMA campers.
How’d you hear about DMA?
My uncle is a professor at Stanford University. One of his colleagues sent his child to the camp for several years. He suggested to my uncle that I should attend the camp to learn more about filmmaking and graphic design, which were some of my early passions.
And how many DMA classes did you take?
I‘ve taken three DMA classes over the years. My first year I took Filmmaking. The best thing about the Filmmaking course was not being trapped in a classroom for the whole day. We got to go outside and film on location wherever we wanted to on the Stanford campus, which was a great way to make new friends.
My second year I took App Development for Unity. Our instructor was a professional game designer for Electronic Arts (EA) and Nintendo. It was really cool to have him give us tips and ideas of what to do with Unity. His advice made our games a lot better than they would have been.
He also told me that living in Silicon Valley, I should further my knowledge of programming, so I continued to study it some more after that summer. There’s always going to be a need for programmers and people who understand software engineering at all of the big tech companies that are out here. So even though I want to pursue a business degree in Sports Management, programming is still an incredibly useful life skill that encompasses such a vast array of professional fields, including the one I want to go into.
But my favorite class by far was Graphic Design. The coolest thing I learned in graphic design was how to manipulate color. Because of that, I got to create my own art style, which we named in the class “Technocolor.” Once I started to get a feel for my new art style, my instructor allowed me to run with the design and start creating more and more pieces.
In that class, I also heard about DMA’s #CreateTheNext Instagram activity. One random student photo was chosen at the end of summer, and the winner would receive an iPad. I ended up submitting about fifteen of the photos I created in the Graphic Design class. I guess it pays to be an active member of DMA’s social media community, because I ended up winning the iPad!
I use the iPad for a lot of school work. It’s a great tool for doing research when I’m writing papers. It allows me to stay focused on my work since I’m not jumping between tabs and my essay or getting distracted by computer games.
I also use it to jot down sketch ideas when inspiration strikes, and I’m not at my computer for graphic design pieces. Even though it’s not the field I’ll be pursuing as a professional, I still love graphic design. I even use the skills I learned to do artwork for my school. Most recently, I made a poster design for a dance we hosted.
What classes are you a TA for?
I’m a TA for Jr. Adventures in Programming and Jr. Adventures in Minecraft. The most fun class I’ve been a part of was Jr. Adventures in Programming, which was also the most rewarding. A lot of the kids in the class didn’t know anything about coding or programming when they started. By the end of the week, they knew so much more than when they began. Their parents were happy, and knowing that I was able to help them gain such important knowledge that they can use in life for the future was so rewarding.
What’s the most challenging thing about being a TA?
Figuring out time management with the kids. A lot of them are super-energetic or don’t want to be in a classroom during the summer. You have to help them learn to control themselves, as well as engage them in a way that makes them want to be there, so that they’re focusing on the task at hand.
What are some tactics you’ve learned throughout the summer to help the Jr. Adventures students stay engaged?
I always do regular check-ups to make sure the students I’m working with understand what’s being taught to prevent anyone from falling behind.
Every so often, I also like to make sure we take a quick break to do some ice-breaker-type games. It helps them get to know their classmates better, and also allows a break from the curriculum, so that they don’t feel overwhelmed by all of the incredible skills they’re learning.
Anything else you’d like to add about your time with DMA?
It’s been a great experience. I think everyone should take a course at Digital Media Academy. It’s the best tech camp you can go to in Silicon Valley. And with the skills you’ll be able to learn, I’d say it’s the best tech camp you can go to in the U.S., as well.