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Phone & Games: New Summer Coding Camp for Middle Schoolers

Flowchart of phone and games

It’s never too early for children to be introduced to programming.

That’s the idea behind a new class being offered this summer at Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. Phone& Games is a one-week camp designed to introduce rising seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students to programming concepts.

In small teams, students will create and present a mobile game app using App Inventor, an interface created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. App Inventor is a simple, graphical interface that lets those with no programming experience create a basic app.

App Inventor is a great way for youngsters to learn how to program, said Margaret Hart, middle school STEM program manager for the Center for Education Outreach at the JHU Whiting School of Engineering. Students don’t need to learn coding syntax or language to be successful.

Hart, who created the Phone & Games curriculum, said the program first was offered last summer at Clark State Community College in Ohio. This summer, it will be offered there and at Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus in Rockville.

In addition to learning basic programming concepts and game design concepts, students will develop problem solving and critical thinking skills. They will be able to make connections between math and programming. These skills are essential as the well-paying computer science job market continues to grow, Hart said.

Enrollment will be capped at 24 students. The class will be taught by an instructor and teaching assistants.

To apply, students need to complete an application form, submit a teacher recommendation and a copy of the most recent report card and write a 150-word essay describing why they want to participate in Phone & Games.

Students need Google accounts to participate. An Android phone is helpful but is not required. Android tablets will be distributed to students to use during class.

The camp runs from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. July 25 through July 29. The cost is $500.

More information, including an application to download, can be found at the JHU Montgomery County Campus summer programs website.

CATEGORY: Academics, K-12 Outreach