High school students set up camp at the ISU College of Design

AMES, Iowa -- They're learning how to sketch a sound, draw digitally, distinguish shape and form and the meaning of studio culture. For two weeks in July, the 16 high school students from Iowa, surrounding states and Puerto Rico are "camped out" at Iowa State University's "Design Condensed." It's the first time the College of Design has offered a summer design camp.

Living in a residence hall and attending classes all day, participants share a strong interest in future design careers -- as architects, artists, community planners, digital designers, graphic designers, industrial designers, interior designers or landscape architects.

They're taking field trips to design businesses, hearing from practitioners, learning about the college's semester in Rome and talking with ISU design students.

The idea is to give a real studio experience to students strongly committed to design, said Debra Satterfield, associate professor and program director of graphic design.

"It's not just making art projects. We really want to give them a sense of what happens in design, and an understanding of the differences between the design professions. That's something high school students don't necessarily have a lot of exposure to," Satterfield said.

Deb Satterfield Photo by Bob Elbert.

Satterfield is teaching "Mark Making," an introductory graphic design class in which students learn how to control materials and create visual languages. Other faculty from architecture, digital media and graphic design are also offering courses in the camp, including "Digital Drawing" and "Soundscape."

As Sarah Wilson, a senior at West Des Moines' Valley High School, experiments with tools that can be used in painting, like combs and sponges, she says, "The class is challenging me to get out of my comfort zone and not feel like I have to have it all planned out beforehand."

Allison Wood, a junior at Creston High School, who is exploring design and is unsure of which area to pursue, says the camp "is teaching me to be more abstract because I'm more of a concrete thinker."

The design camp is based on the college's three-year success presenting a three-day workshop for high school students at ISU Design West in Sioux City.

"Several who attended our first workshop in Sioux City are now sophomores or juniors in the College of Design," Satterfield said. "Early indicators show that they are doing well and have success in our design programs."

The camp concludes on Saturday, July 24, with a public reception and gallery exhibition of students' work, noon to 1 p.m. in 181 Design.