SPEF holds first annual NGC camp for elementary school students

By Rachel Lu
Staff Writer

Photos by Luke Quezada

The South Pasadena Education Foundation’s first Next Generation Coding camp converted SPMS computer labs into coding classrooms this past week. The NGC program, taught by SPHS Coding Club volunteers, aimed to give elementary and incoming middle school students an introduction to computer science through basic lessons and activities.

After months of planning, the camp launched on Monday with over 40 attending students who were directed to classrooms based on grade level. Volunteers and teachers were also distributed between the rooms, with an additional teacher assigned to the room with younger students. Founder and recent SPHS Class of 2016 graduate Kristen Kafkaloff supervised all students with advisor Mr. Garrett Shorr.DSC_0075

“Each day we have a major topic; [we start with] a word of the day, like debugging or algorithm,” Shorr said. “Our hands-on [segment] introduces the students to the concept through a sort of paper or movement-based activity, and then they get to apply that knowledge on the computer using code.org.”

Kafkaloff’s lesson plans were designed to provide learning opportunities for students of varying skill levels in the camp. Code.org lessons and interactive tasks such as programming relays and human-computer algorithms were incorporated in most students’ curriculum. However, several students exceeded these assignments and were introduced to Javascript from codecademy.com.rachel-2

“[Each student] comes into the camp with different goals, so they know what they want to learn,” teacher and SPHS alumnus Raymond Gilmartin said. “And they do exactly that, very fast.”

The five-day camp ended on Friday, and will be led next year by incoming SPHS seniors Tei Park and Grace (Yeoung Eun) Kim.