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Rose-Hulman Connects Youths with Coding and Programming

Monday, June 12, 2017
Woman and man talking at Rose-Hulman career fair.

Learning About Coding: Elementary school and middle school students learned simple coding and programming skills during the first Connecting With Code program.

The future is now for nearly 50 students participating in a Connecting with Code summer computing education experience from June 5 to June 10 on campus as part of the national code.org program. This is the first year for the program.

Groups of elementary school and middle school students learned the basic concepts of computer coding and connecting with online programming resources that they can continue to use after this camp experience. Students worked in programming teams in computer laboratories, and had Rose-Hulman students as mentors to help make their first experience a positive start to programming.

The sessions were provided by computer science and software engineering professors David Fisher and David Mutchler, and the day camp experience was organized by Erik Liobis, assistant director of residence life.

The elementary school students used a block-based computer programming language, called Scratch, to make sharable online animations and program Lego robots. Meanwhile, middle school students used the Python programming language to create graphics and controlling Lego robots.

“Hopefully, we’re instilling a mindset within these students that computing and coding is fun and exciting, and they’re continue working in these areas well after completing this camp,” says Fisher.   

Time was spent each day connecting students with such online programming resources as code.org, www.cs-first.com and scratch.mit.edu.

A special emphasis is being made to get girls and other underrepresented minorities to start learning about code. As mentioned by https://www.madewithcode.com/about/, 74 percent of girls express an interest in STEM in middle school, but by high school only three tenths of one percent of girls plan to major in computer science. Several girls participated in the Connecting With Code camp.

“Computing is a necessary skill for everybody. Every part of our daily lives, in some way, is associated with computing and technology,” says Mutchler. “If these kids continue to expand in lessons learned here this week, they could have some valuable skills and contribute to some exciting times.”

Rose-Hulman officials are already examining the possibility of hosting another camp next summer.