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#Code_IT Campers Spend Week Learning Programming, Building Blocks for a High-Tech Future

$14,000 TWC Code Camp Grant Supports DMC Summer Camp to Encourage Area Youth to Pursue Computer Science and Other High-Tech Field Studies

Article by Melinda Eddleman

The camp at Del Mar College (DMC) has become a popular summer activity for middle schoolers with independent school districts around the Corpus Christi area. All 20 seats were filled with a waiting list already set for summer 2023.

Code Camp Mentor Chad Aguilar and TWC Commissioner Julian Alvarez_071822

Sixth through eighth graders have spent the week (July 18-22) learning the principles of computer science during the fourth annual #Code_IT Camp funded by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to keep the state globally competitive in a high-tech world.

The one-week camp is offered for free due to a $14,000 TWC Code Camp grant to support the state’s initiative to show young minds the possibilities that await them and encourage campers to pursue high-tech STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

“Our hope is that camp participants are inspired and their passion ignited to pursue STEM studies, especially computer science,” noted Dara Betz, DMC Coordinator of the #Code_IT Camp and Workforce Programs Director with DMC Corporate Services. “When finished, they will have spent a week learning about technology and staying engaged with hands-on activities that build on their problem-solving and analytical skills.”

DMC Computer Science Professor Yan Xu and Two Code Camper Participants

The first two days, campers learned programming and built robots––including Sphero Bolt Robots and mBOT Smart Cars. Wednesday’s daylong activity introduced the 20 youth to building, programming and flying drones. The Collegiate High School Robotics Team, who are the statewide competition champions this year, taught, demonstrated and conducted fun robotics exercises with the campers on their fourth day of activities. The #Code_IT Camp culminated with bottle rockets and fun competition among teams.

Participants engaged in eight hours of classroom instruction and performed 22 hours of hands-on activities using four types of robots.

Developed as a team-building experience, the #Code_IT Camp offers several levels of coding curriculum focused on spatial reasoning and computer programming, logic-based programming and text-based coding for drones. Campers are exposed to design logic, computational thinking and language scripting for robots.

One camper was 11-year-old Mariah Delk, who will be a sixth grader at Baker Middle School this next year. About the 2022 #Code_IT Camp, she said, “The most exciting thing I learned was probably how to make the robots and drones because it was really fun to put those together and learn how to program them properly.”

Delk noted that there are multiple kinds of programming languages, which is coding, “so the coding that I did for the mBOT car and Sphero is drag and drop block coding where basically you can customize the blocks and then put them all together to create animation and other things like that.”

She added, “I personally want to become an electrical engineer because I find it a very interesting field, and I do know that coding will probably help me get further into that area. Yeah, that’s what I’m hoping to be when I grow up. […] So, when I found out about this camp, I said ‘Heck yeah, let’s go.’”

“In general, I wanted to learn more about coding and programming because I am interested in becoming a programmer,” said Joseph Flores about attending this year’s camp. The 11-year-old will also start the sixth grade at Robstown ISD’s Seale Junior High School and noted that he learned the basics of the matrix system to program a robot and found robotics to be the most interesting, adding: “This is my first year [to attend], and I’m definitely going to join next year.”

Betz added, “Our end-game is that campers will see this summer camp as a building block toward their future, which in turn, is building upon the competitive sustainability of Texas’ economy.”

This year’s camp participants are off to a good start.



About Del Mar College

Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.