A robust schedule of summer tech camps is ensuring that kids 7-17 are up to code when it comes to programming, creating websites, program robots, and developing video games. This hands-on, collaborative, and inclusive training environment is being provided by Code Central through August 5 at both of its locations, in Henderson on Eastern Avenue and in Summerlin on West Flamingo.
It is here that snakes and snails and puppy dog tails meet sugar and spice and everything nice on the equal keyboards of computer science. The weekly camps offer a variety of tracks including Unity 3D Game Masters, Roblox Foundations, Robotics Engineering, Intro to Robotics, and hybrid app development. Within a fun and collaborative space that inspires creativity, camp days, which run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., are designed to offer a balanced schedule of learning and social time as well as physical activity. Whether beginner, intermediate or advanced, learning is individualized and each child achieves at his or her own pace working closely with an instructor. And while the goals and vision of Code Central are the same for both sexes, this year there is something only for the girls – a new all girls camp for future female entrepreneurs
“Coding is just another name for programming,” explains Eric Mendelsohn, who with his brother, Brian, established the first-of-its-kind Code Central in Nevada in March 2017 as an after-school tech center for youth. “My background is in teaching and education for more than 25 years. My goal was to create an environment where boys and girls alike could learn valuable skills and learn to code. They also are given the ability to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. My vision is that some will eventually become computer programmers in the industry.”
“At Code Central, they learn how to overcome obstacles and be persistent in achieving their goals,” he adds. “They achieve life skills and they have the opportunity to be creative and to create projects they are excite4d about. Schools are very far behind in teaching computer skills. There are thousands of jobs and not enough people across the country to fill them. As technology evolves, there is going to be more of a gap and coding will become more and more of an essential skill.”
Mendelsohn notes that the new Summer Camp for Girls, which takes place Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., has a different focus each week. For example, there is a robotics camp in which the girls learn to create and apply coding to a program using robots and they also learn video game design and how to create apps.
“Some of the females are learning very advanced work with coding,” he acknowledges. “They are learning the programming language and applying that to create their individual projects. As with all of our students, our objective is to get them to create technology rather than having them just be conscious of it and how to use it. We want to give them a head start although some of these kids know more about programming than their teachers. We want the girls to be involved. We also encourage interaction with each other and socialization. They are not at home by themselves sitting in front of a computer It’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm and excitement these kids have when they come to the center.”
Nadine Rayes, Code Central instructor who is also a college senior with a major in computer science, concurs. “There are typically not as many girls here, although there is a good amount, and they are usually at the center on weekends,” she says. “Sometimes it’s even an all-girls hour. But the new Summer Camp for Girls is a little different. We offer the girls more creative options because they respond to creativity in programming. We also try to focus on group work to create a sense of friendship and on creating something as a group. The main age of the girls is 10-11. We want them to have fun while learning computer science.”
The girls sign up for one week of camp at a time. In the course of a day, there is one hour of game development and one hour of web development and the girls work in groups with different instructors on various projects. They also work on individual projects together as well as on group projects. Throughout the day, they endeavor in different areas of computer science. They take breaks, eat a healthy lunch, and do physical activities such as Pilates or martial arts.
“We try to keep things open and casual,” informs Rayes. “Even when the girls are off the computer, we still keep them in a social environment. We keep them active.”
A desire to learn and a vision for their futures, that’s really what boys and girls are made of.