Prince Rupert’s students got to flex their coding muscles on July 27 as Coast Mountain College facilitated a Digicamp workshop.
Armed with fun, miniaturized robots called ozobots, the workshop’s instructors gave the students an entry-level introduction to coding concepts.
“It’s a starting point for programming for the kids so they can understand it without java or other complicated languages,” said Shayla Ruchotzke, one of the camp’s instructors. “It’s the very beginning to get them interested in computer sciences in their future.”
The ozobots have sensors that read different colours, allowing them to be programmed by drawing different colour combinations on a sheet of paper. When the ozobots drive over the colours, the combinations instruct them to do different things like change colour, speed up or spin.
The Digicamp was being offered in partnership with Actua, an organization that aims to bring digital literacy to more remote locations, such as the North Coast. The camp has instructed 183 students — aged 5-16 — since the beginning of July in Prince Rupert, Terrace, Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams.
“There’s not as much up here in this area and it will be important for their schooling so that’s why we introduced it,” said Dawn Balke, the director of the camp.
Ruchotzke said the interactive nature of the ozobots makes it more fun for the students to learn about programming concepts, which increased their enthusiasm for the course and computer sciences more generally.
She said she hopes this will encourage them to ask for more programming like this in the northwest of B.C.
“If they go home and tell their parent about it then their parents might do more with them toward coding and computer science or they might go to their school and advocate for doing more in science technology,” she said.