Nearly 200 elementary students got to try out their computer coding skills this summer during Penn Manor’s first Coding Camp, offered free to all students.
Camp sessions ran from June 17 to July 11 at Eshleman and Pequea elementary schools.
Working individually and in groups, students in grades 1 through 6 explored the Scratch visual programming language and created theme-based projects, including interactive stories, games and animations.
“I begged my mom to sign me up for the camp because I really enjoy coding,” said camp participant Jolie Singletary, who will be a sixth-grader at Eshleman in the fall. “If I could, I would do coding every day!”
Penn Manor technology training specialists Judy Keller and Shelby Foster led the sessions, with assistance from other district technology staff members — and a couple of students: Ryan Landis, an Eshleman sixth-grader, and Logan Brown, a fourth-grader at Martic Elementary.
“It’s really fun to work with the class,” Ryan said. “I think learning coding is a good skill because people use coding for a bunch of different things, and they could use it later when they grow up. With coding, I’ve always dreamed of making my own game.”
Keller said Penn Manor decided to offer the camp after introducing students to coding during the school year.
“The response has been amazing,” she said. “We registered more than 175 students and had a wait list for all the camps. I hope this can become an annual event.”
Keller also was pleased with the large number of girls who participated. Most sessions were split evenly between boys and girls, and one was mostly girls.
“I think introducing coding to girls at an early age removes a stigma that seems to exist in the field,” said Keller, who pointed out that only about 17 percent of computer science jobs are currently held by women.
She said all students will benefit from the skills they learned during the camp, including critical thinking, determination, problem solving, computational thinking – and the courage to try new things while having fun.
“It was really fun seeing what everybody else could create and comparing it to what you could create,” Jolie said. “That was really cool to see what I could do.”