It was a long process – after initially hearing of a program at my sister’s college where she ran a coding camp for middle school students, I asked her if it was possible to provide the same opportunity to local middle school students who would soon be attending Maine West High School. We applied for a grant through the Society of Women Engineers and contacted administrators at our school to find out if it was possible.
Although administrators thought that getting even 15 students would be a challenge, they later acquiesced, suggesting a room to use – the last computer lab we had left in the school, but one that was up-to-date. I made flyers and surveys for the classes, contacting high school and middle school students, teachers and principals. When the responses started flooding in, everyone involved was shocked. Eventually, over 40 students signed up, although only 30 students ended up coming. We also had 15 students interested in serving as mentors. Due to time and resource constraints, we pared the normal camp down from 1 class/week x 3 hours x 6 weeks to 4 classes/week x 2.5 hours x 1.5 weeks. We still had 6 classes, but they were now stretched between Monday-Thursday of one week and Monday-Tuesday of the next and classes were 30 minutes shorter than normal. I opened the class to all students and did not just restrict it to females, as I wanted to provide students with an opportunity that I did not have in middle school.
Despite the odds (and by limiting time for snack breaks!), our great students produce beautiful websites under the tutelage of our wonderful mentors, with each mentor going above and beyond the call of duty to provide food, give directions, take attendance, check code, provide general assistance and be an overall motivational force.
We also set aside in time for three presentations from local leaders in STEM – a math and science teacher from our high school who spoke about being one of the few girls in her STEM classes,
We were able to stretch our budget to provide our students with snacks during six classes; and gifts (a virtual reality headset for the students and Bluetooth speakers for the mentors) and food (pizza, cupcakes and water) for our seventh and final presentation session.
|Students focusing on coding (hopefully on their websites and not on changing their view of their grades using “Inspect Element”)|
|“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
“Don’t smile because it’s over; cry because you have a linear algebra quiz tomorrow.” – Me