Things Learned from Four Weeks & Four Coding Camps


The last four straight weeks I have spent teaching various development topics to students in different cities throughout south central Tennessee.  It is the second straight year my June has been booked with such.  This year was a bit crazier in that I also welcomed my second daughter into the world on the first week of the camps!  Say hello to Amelia Ruby!

Amelia Ruby!

How little ones effect everything, especially sleep!

Here are a few things I have observed over these weeks or noticed in the surveys we give at the end of each week:

  1. Website development (HTML/CSS is what we covered for a couple days) were easily the set of skills most students wanted to learn and the thing that students enjoyed the most.  Students loved being able to make something that others can go to that they made (show and tell type deal).  A couple of the camps I showed a simple CSS3 animation by using the transform property, and they really dug that as well, but the main thing was hosting a website on Github for anyone to see.  They thought that was the coolest.
  2. Minecraft is still loved by all, even if we are only talking the version on Raspberry Pis.  We have been using Raspberry Pis for most of the camps, and Minecraft has been the thing most students play during breaks.  So we (Josh Hatcher [He has been with me for a couple years now helping with the camps.  Watch for him to do great things!] and I) decided to show some Minecraft modding using Python for the Raspberry Pis.  This was a success.  Students really enjoyed hacking around Minecraft.
  3. Blinking lights did not phase the students.  I think that it is really cool that you can basically learn circuitry using the Pis… the students could’ve cared less.  That kinda blew my mind.  I thought it would be a huge success.  There are some thoughts that maybe we didn’t teach the material well enough, but I kinda thought it wouldn’t have mattered.  We will revisit that topic in another camp.  Possibly next year.
  4. Scratch is still the best introduction to a coding camp for ages 12-18.  We are starting to look at offering camps to younger students, and I think we may start utilizing for this.  There are a ton of resources here that make me think this should be the first/main stop for younger code camps.

Overall, all the camps have been a success.  We have one camp left in a couple weeks, and I am excited for that camp due to all the speakers we will be having that week.


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