SPHS students teach introductory coding as part of the Next Generation Coding Camp

Story by Raymond Yeo
Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Femineers

SPHS’ Coding Club kicked off the third iteration of its Next Generation Coding (NGC) camp, a weeklong course teaching introductory coding to elementary and middle school students. Throughout the week of June 11, participants learned the fundamental aspects of coding and applied their knowledge by creating various projects.

The camp was held at the SPHS Library where the campers were broken up into two groups based on experience and skill. Seniors Angela Zhang and Lauren Kafkaloff led the introductory group which utilized the block coding program “Scratch,” while senior Chi Chow’s experienced group learned the more advanced Javascript program. Both classes utilized powerpoints to instruct the students and ended their sessions with hands-on projects which the students were able to take home.

Founded in 2016 by SPHS alumni Kristen Kafkaloff, the goal of NGC is to give the next generation of students an early look into the coding world through fun and engaging methods.

“It’s a cool program because it’s completely student-led and run by a high school club that the kids can join later in high school,” said L. Kafkaloff. “The kids are introduced to a growing and underemployed occupation in a fun and intriguing manner.”

This camp is part of the recent steps the school district has taken to increase students’ exposure to technology-related fields.

In 2016, SPHS joined Femineers, a program run by Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering that aims to increase female involvement in STEM related fields. Femineers are female high school engineers who engage with professional engineers while also creating their own projects through the program. Led by computer science teacher Garrett Shorr and math teacher Diana Shen, 47 SPHS Femineers attended the annual summit at Cal Poly Pomona on May 23, 2018. The participants presented various projects based on their experience: creative robotics for first year members, wearable technology for second year members, and Raspberry Pi robotics for third year members.

Shorr also encouraged his students to participate in the annual Code Day LA. Various participants of all ages brought their laptops and love for programming to Hub101, a coworking zone operated by Cal Lutheran University. Coders pitched ideas for creative projects, formulated teams, then spent the entire night programming, snacking, and playing games. The ultimate goal of the weekend summit was to capture first in Code Cup, awarded to the best program developed.

“It was inspiring to be surrounded by many people in the coding community outside of the classroom,” said attendee senior Shay Ma, whose group programmed a game where the player determines the character’s actions through voice recognition.

Many members of the SPHS Coding Club are also enrolled in the computer science pathway offered at the school. With the addition of the newest class, Engineering Development Design (EDD), the pathway now consists of four levels through which students are able to learn about web development, coding, and Android application development.

The upcoming school year will also feature a new creative robotics course for underclassmen. Current Project Lead The Way (PLTW) bio-med teacher Krista Gale will pioneer course.

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