More than a dozen middle-school students from Everett Public Schools attended a weeklong summer camp designed to introduce them to coding and basic computer science concepts in a fun and engaging way.
The camp, funded by a National Science Foundation grant, was directed by computer science majors from UMass Lowell and experienced middle-school technology teachers. It featured engaging community partners and a cutting-edge curriculum.
Students learned how to create mobile phone apps for partner organizations, giving them the chance to offer their newly developed technology skills for positive social change and to further connect with their community.
This year, campers heard presentations from La Comunidad (Everett Immigrant Services), Everett Community Growers Association (a community garden to farmer’s market and food pantry initiative), Everett Conservation Commission, and the Everett Historical Commission. They learned about the variety of work being done: growing food, distributing food, about organizations working on immigrant rights, how the city works to preserve the waterfront, and how the Historical Commission is creating new historical walking tours in anticipation of the new tourists coming to the city when the new casino opens! So many exciting things going on in Everett, and the campers got to learn all about them.
The campers worked to design and make mobile Android apps that could help these organizations do their work! The camp tries to model a real entrepreneurial process, so that students learn about planning and collaboration, development and testing and finally, presentation. By the end, all of the participants developed a competitive yet enjoyable and cooperative spirit among the teams.
At the end of the week students showed off their apps and spoke to a packed room of parents, community partner organizers, and school officials. This year, the camp was led by Akira Kamiya and Lafayette School technology teacher Lori Blank.
Students also learned about potential career paths and how computer science is related to pretty much all other fields of work! All along our aim is to make this technology skill accessible and fun– and based on the smiles we saw along the way I think we did a good job!