The click-clack of active keyboards resonated through a Coconino Community College computer lab this week as 20 kids typed away, earbuds in and faces to the screens.
They weren’t playing games or surfing the web, though. They were coding their own websites.
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“It’s really not easy. It takes a lot of effort and time but once you’re done with it, it just feels so good,” said Michael Atiemo, 10.
Michael was one of the students participating this week in the last of four sessions of the annual STEM camp, Summer of Coding, hosted by the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce.
The 6-year-old program, sponsored by Arizona Public Service (APS) and Suddenlink, offers week-long sessions to kids from ages 11 to 16 who are interested in coding.
CCC joined in for the first time this year, offering up its technology-packed iLab as a home for the camp.
“STEM learning is not a niche learning. It’s for all people,” said Julie Pastrick, president and CEO of the Chamber. “We don’t feel like you should start in high school to learn STEM. We feel like you have to start pretty early, which is why our program starts at age 11.”
In addition to creating websites, other sessions of the camp allowed kids to program small LEGO robots with coding, learn how to think – and print – in 3D and calculate the velocity and landing time of a small rocket they launched together.
These other sessions gave kids the opportunity to do a different project each day, said camp leader Larry Marek, the robotics team coach at Sinagua Middle School; however, the web development groups are spending most of their camp time building their websites.
Though he said most of these students had some basic coding experience, he walked them all through a ‘refresher course’ on the basics of two different computer programming languages. He also showed them online resources to start a free website and those that allow them to code basic video games.
Their websites can be coded either entirely by hand or using online templates as a guideline.