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Four Athens Code Camps Introduce Kids to Programming and Athens Startups

On a Thursday afternoon in downtown Athens, kids in the first Four Athens summer code camp eat lunch in the shared meeting space at 345 West Hancock Street and discuss the field trip they’ve just returned from. After reviewing work from the previous day on a “Mad Libs” web app that morning, the kids then visited the offices of local education technology startup Cogent to see some experienced coders at work building 3-D interactive animations. After lunch, the group tackled an age calculator web app, reviewing the code together and identifying the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in the code by answering questions posed by instructor Kelly Durkin.

 

“I’ve loved doing this,” Ms. Durkin explains later. “Being relatively new to coding, I was nervous at first, but I have experience working with kids. And that’s been the best part – the kids are great. I’m reinforcing my own skills by helping them learn. We nerd out together and it’s a blast.”

 

 

Ms. Durkin recently completed the Intro to Programming course for adults at Four Athens, and was tapped by instructor Sean Reid to lead the Kids Code Camp. Using CodePen, a popular code editing tool, Mr. Reid created the basic templates for the code projects used at camp, each of which could then be “forked” (ie. shared) with the instructor and each camper onto their individual laptops. This allows everyone to view the same code template for instruction, while also giving kids access to edit and test the code on their own devices for practice.

 

“Summer code camps are a great way to keep kids engaged in learning out of school with hands-on activities that promote critical thinking while building tech skills,” said Reid.

 

At the inaugural summer code camp, the kids caught on quickly to the original curriculum for building a Pong game in JavaScript, so the curriculum was augmented to include additional exercises, like the “Mad Libs” and age calculation web apps campers were working on after their field trip. Later that same afternoon, a software developer and co-founder with Athens tech startup Vestigo joined the group to introduce and discuss the Ruby language.

 

Four Athens hosts its first series of summer code camps this year. Another week-long camp will take place in July, along with Saturday software workshops for kids and all ages, plus hardware classes in partnership with Hackyard Athens. Summer can be a time for both fun and learning with these hands-on tech experiences designed to engage beginners, hobbyists, and even experienced techies, in a range of projects.

 

Tamara Neff
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