Monday, August 4, 2014

50 Students Attend First Spring Branch ISD Code Camp

Spring Branch ISD students gathered on July 28 at the Technology Training Center to begin a four-day camp revolving around what many believe to be the language of the future — coding.

Led by SBISD Educational Technology Director Sheri Alford, Code Camp is the first-ever, computer science-based coding camp in the district. It was started with the help of computer science advocate and former teacher Karen North and Spring Branch parent liaison and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) advocate Janice Teske.

“Coding is the next literacy and I think people are just now starting to see the importance of it. The camp was created to familiarize students with computational thinking and get them interested in computer science as a whole,” North said.

Open to students in grades 4-8, Code Camp housed 50 campers from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with breaks throughout the day. The students were divided into two different groups by grade level.

 The fourth-and fifth-grade group was taught by Nottingham Elementary third grade teacher Annie Mitchell and Memorial Middle tech apps teacher Shanda Fraser. The older group — grades 6-8 — was taught by Westchester Academy for International Studies (WAIS) technology teachers Cheryl and Shaun Wegscheid, a mother and son duo.

While the students were separated by age, some of the fourth-and fifth-graders were moved up to the older group due to their knowledge of coding and computer science as the week progressed.

Ryan Stanicic — an incoming fourth-grader at The Spring Branch School for Highly Gifted Students (SHGS) — joined the elder group shortly after the first day began.

“So far Code Camp has been the best thing I’ve done this summer. While I am here, I hope to learn more about Java and Tynker [two different computer programs],” Ryan said during his lunch break on the first day.

“You can do anything you want through coding. You can build anything, create anything; it is incredible really,” he added.

The older coders began their camp adventures with Tynker, a relatively new online software that teaches important computer science concepts. These include repetition, conditional logic, computer drawing, app creation, problem decomposition, algorithmic thinking and automation.

Tynker and many of the other programs used during Code Camp and similar camps across the nation are recommended and made available through

 “Tynker is pretty similar to Scratch [a program created in 2007 by the MIT Tech Media Lab] except they [] have taken away what some people didn’t like about Scratch and then reworked it to be easier on some levels,” Cheryl Wegscheid said.

 “Not having this camp set by skill level allows us to meet them wherever they are with their interest and knowledge of computer science, specifically coding. We want to introduce a variety of programs and give them resources that they can go to and continue learning from even after the camp ends,” she adds. is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding computer science education in schools and increasing participation of women and other underrepresented student groups in the field.

Backed by a number of major corporations such as Facebook, Google and Apple, has had more than 39 million people participate in an “Hour of Code,” a campaign aimed to familiarize computer science by encouraging millions to try just an hour of coding.

Buffalo Creek Elementary participated in the campaign during Computer Science Education week last December, after which the school received a $10,000 technology grant from the organization.

Alford and other involved educators have already begun planning next summer’s Code Camp. As a result of a large pool of applicants this year, they are hoping to expand the camp so that more students can participate.

For more information on Code Camp and the topics explored during its duration please visit:

Code Campers Include:

Hank Davis, James Grossman, Joshua Harris, Jude Jamison, Ryan Lamprecht,  Cameron Longo, Bradley Marrs, Camilla Pearson, John Perkins, William Rother, Benjamin Saterbah. Danielle Semine, Faris Soliman, Ryan Stanicic, Sophia Tang, Caleb Tatum, Alex Teske, Lorenzo Toro,  Camila Trujillo, Christopher Vukadin,  Megan Xie, Caleb Xu, Logan Zaozirny

Nathan Bender, Alyssa Bommer, Camron Carr, Carson Foster, Chandler Gartner, Daragh Haddon, Nicholas Herrmann, Brady Hoffman, Thomas Hughes, Ava Leitner, Phillip Liou, Thomas Moll, Julia Paulik, Zane Pramudji, Gavin Sharp, Craig Tarco, Alex Lamprecht, Samuel McClintook, Evelyn Silsby, Charlie Simpson, Susanna Teske, Gabriel Toro, Finn Haddon, Sean Healy, Gerald Hoffman, Robert Peterson, Trinity Tang

Communications Intern Kali Venable wrote this story.


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