The idea of “summer camp” conjures images of cabins, canoes, and crafts. Utah Valley University’s Community Education summer computer coding camps offer similar activities — as long as the cabins are virtually rendered, the canoes are fashioned out of JavaScript code, and the crafts involve building video games rather than boondoggle keychains.
The idea of “summer camp” conjures images of cabins, canoes, and crafts. Utah Valley University’s Community Education summer computer coding camps offer similar activities — as long as the cabins are virtually rendered, the canoes are fashioned out of JavaScript code, and the crafts involve building video games rather than boondoggle keychains.
Amid Community Education’s myriad of summer courses lie some of its most popular offerings: computer coding. Students ages 10 to 14 years old opted to learn how to master computing in the following classes:  
These classes were taught on UVU’s West Campus and almost always filled to capacity.
“Not only are kids hungry to learn how to code, but it is also a part of their daily lives since we are all living in a digital world,” UVU Community Education Director R.J. Willing said. “Learning to code doesn’t just set students up for career opportunities later on in life, it also provides a host of soft skills and benefits that kids today need: problem-solving, persistence, creativity, confidence, and communication.”
UVU information systems students Toby Dieckman and Chase Smith have spent the summer teaching classes in conjunction with Seth Iorg, the co-founder of Simply Coding, a school based out of Saratoga Springs. Iorg started his school to help students with an interest in coding learn the skills that will help them when they enter college.
“A couple of years back, I talked to the UVU dean over computer science, and he said half of our students that come into the computer science majors as freshmen have never coded before,” Iorg said. “He told me that we lose a lot of students because they really just don’t know what coding is other than it pays well, it sounds fun, and they like computers. But college was their first exposure. We want to give the kids coding exposure at a younger age, so they know what it is, and they know what they’re getting into when they’re making these decisions later in life.”
Their last class of the summer, “Roblox: World Building,” showed students how to create obstacle course games using Lua scripting and Roblox, a system for creating online games.
“Kids pick up programming better than adults, just like most things,” Dieckman said. “So it’s just better to get an early start with programming. Coding is a lot like learning a new language, and kids have an aptitude for picking up languages as well. Adults, we are just kind of set in our ways, but these students really want to learn, so they pick it up crazy fast.”
Incoming fifth grader Porter Smith finished off the ice maze he created in just a week while he talked of his dream job.
“I’m going to need this in the future,” he said. “My dream job is coding. Anything with coding.” He pointed to a character in the maze. “Don’t mind Bongo over there. He’s just there to kill you.”
Porter’s older brother and incoming high school freshman Kyler worked on a landscape terrain editor so his character – a flying piece of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in a top hat – could successfully navigate the maze he created in five days.
“I want to learn this stuff now because I want to be ahead when I’m in college and not learning it then for the very first time,” Kyler said. “I want to build games and other fun stuff when I’m older. There are so many great YouTube creators and developers out there, and I want to be able to code like them.”
“Everything is going towards computer science-related fields,” Smith said. “Every company that you start, you need someone to work the back end and the front end, and it’s all computer science related. If you can get kids interested in coding and doing things that are fun, like games or things they can see immediately, it doesn’t matter what they decide to do. If they know how to code, it’s going to be helpful in everything in their life.”
Willing said Community Education seeks to partner with local businesses and individuals when assembling its catalog of summer courses. According to Iorg, Simply Coding’s partnership with UVU Community Education has been collaborative from the beginning.
“UVU has been a good fit from the beginning,” Iorg said. “I simply said, ‘Hey, here are my classes. Can I teach them?’ and they said, ‘Yes, what can we do to help?’ It’s like we’re working together as a team rather than me, as a business owner, asking how I can get things done.
“They push things at UVU, they want to serve the community, and they want to represent Utah County in the best way. That’s what I like.”
To learn more about UVU Community Education and Simply Coding, visit https://www.uvu.edu/communityed/ and https://simplycoding.org/
UVU community ed coding class
UVU community ed coding class
UVU community ed coding class

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