Plugging in wires to a circuit board, typing code, following detailed instructions and bragging about the soda their mom packed into their lunch is a typical afternoon for the 10- to 16-year-old campers in Rudy Klucik’s summer coding camp teaching …
Plugging in wires to a circuit board, typing code, following detailed instructions and bragging about the soda their mom packed into their lunch is a typical afternoon for the 10- to 16-year-old campers in Rudy Klucik’s summer coding camp teaching Arduino, introducing campers to circuit boards and eventually program technology based in robotics and self-driving cars.
“I like when they get their circuits working,” Klucik said. “At this age, they get to use electronics and put things together (on a circuit board). That is not something they would get to do. A lot of the time they hand out a board on the first day of college and some people have never touched one before then.”
Klucik, a recent University of Colorado electrical engineering graduate, scrolled through a student’s laptop, asking questions about the code that would hopefully get his circuit board to start making sound.
“Debugging is the worst part of it,” Zack Wolfinger, 10, said. “You have to go all through the code and find the one thing that is wrong.”
University of Colorado South Denver, which was annexed into Lone Tree in March, is offering programs to kids this summer through a partnership with Coding withKids, a company that introduces coding and programming to children.
CU South Denver, in the building at10035 S. Peoria St.that formerly housed the Wildlife Experience, is a unique location that serves members of all ages within their community. The campus received responses from a survey sent out to the Lone Tree community members and noticed a demand for technology instruction and programming.
“Coding camps are an example of us being responsible to our community saying they want to be more tech savvy and want their kids to have more experiences in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) field,” said Luella Chavez D’Angelo, the University of Colorado’s vice chancellor for enterprise development. “We are thrilled to partner with Coding with Kids.”
Coding with Kids started in Seattle in 2013. The program expanded to Colorado in 2016 and has since reached more than 800 kids in the state. The program expanded to 50 partners in the state that offer after-school programs and summer camps, and CU South Denver is the first university partner in Colorado.
The six curriculum options offered at CU South Denver are created for kids 5 to 16 years old.
The Little Coders Class, for ages 5 to 7, introduces kids to concepts of coding through both online and offline activities. The classes for older kids range from beginning knowledge to advanced application in the computing and coding subjects of Arduino, Minecraft modding, game development, Pythonand web developing.
“Kids are interested in coding because it has such a huge impact on things they do on a regular basis,” said Hardy Bora, Coding with Kids’ regional director. “This gives them an outlet to build something where they can channel their creativity and thirst for knowledge.”
Bora said that, ultimately, coding relies on logical thinking and problem solving. He said that teaching coding requires the teaching of “how to learn, not what to learn.”
And with the wide use of technology today, coding is an important skill, Bora said.
“Everything requires coding,” Bora said. “It is a central focus of everyday life to be able to build something or understand something using code.”
When the camp is over, the education continues. The kids are given access to online programs after the camp to continue their learning.
“Not all kids are going to use (the online programs),” Bora said. “A good majority of them are excited about what they built and they want to continue building it.”
The skills and learned lessons, Bora said, will continue in the lives of these kids beyond the summer.
“Not only are these skills transferable in other aspects of their lives, but they also give these kids something to be passionate about,” Bora said.
“We want to share our passion for coding and lifelong learning with these kids. We want to teach them how to learn, not what to learn.”