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West Oso Junior High Schoolers Attend One-week DMC High-tech Coding Camp

Free #Code_IT camp made possible through $10,500 TWC grant awarded to Del Mar College; AI2ES team members attended students’ demos as part of Corpus Christi retreat

Article by Melinda Eddleman

(Cllick photos to enlarge and for cutlines.)


For some West Oso Junior High students, the week of July 19-23 was all about technology and computer coding and programming. In conjunction with the Citgo Innovation Academy with West Oso Independent School District, along with a $10,500 Texas Workforce Commission Camp Code grant awarded to Del Mar College, 15 campers attended a five-day high-tech learning experience called #Code_IT.

#Code_IT Camp participant running robot on track

The free camp was designed to build participants’ problem-solving and analytical skills while piquing their interest in computer science as a potential career as part of initiatives to encourage young Texas minds to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

On Wednesday, July 21, coding campers demonstrated the skills they learned to program robots during their first two days of camp. Campers were given a mBot Nero robot to build themselves; and after the camp, they took the robots home.



#Code_IT Camp participants learn about drones

Among observers that day, guests with the Artificial Intelligence to Environmental Science (AI2ES) team, which included DMC and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi faculty, who were holding a retreat in the city that week. AI2ES falls under the National Science Foundation AI Institute for Research on Trustworthy AI in Weather, Climate and Coastal Oceanography that is led by the University of Oklahoma.

West Oso Junior High’s STEM Academy is very excited to have had the opportunity to explore innovative and engaging STEM fields with the help and support of Del Mar College. The  College’s coding camp is a great segway for our students to learn more about computer science studies and careers, and we thank all the partners for making this camp available to our community and for changing our students’ lives.
Christina Campos, STEM Teacher with West Oso ISD
West Oso students working with their robots

Developed to be a team-building experience, #Code_IT exposed campers to design logic, computational thinking and language scripting for robots. On the last day of camp, they also engaged in some friendly competition to demonstrate the impact of a week’s worth of high-tech learning.



STEM activities at the middle school grade level fosters creativity in a way that links creative thinking to innovation. Working in a team setting, our #Code_IT camp prepares participants to think outside the box as they connect science, technology, engineering and math to discover lots of possibilities as well as develop stronger team-building skills, including collaboration and leadership.
Dara Betz, DMC Workforce Programs Director and Coding Camp Coordinator

DMC is one of eight TWC Camp Code grant recipients this year. Overall, the Commission awarded nearly $400,000 to universities, colleges and ISDs across the state to develop programming that encourages youth to pursue STEM fields with a focus on computer science. The TWC’s news release announcing the grant noted that computer science is a high-demand field needed to keep the Texas economy growing.

Earlier this year, the DMC Computer Science, Engineering and Advanced Technology Department announced the College’s new Artificial Intelligence (AI) certificate program starting this fall. The program is the first of its kind in the nation.


CHS students demonstrating their robots to West Oso Junior High students

“#Code_IT is a good way to get these young minds started toward such a program and thinking about work in AI as a potential career,” notes Betz.

CITGO Petroleum Company also has an interest in fostering a STEM-based workforce and established their fourth CITGO Innovation Academy in Corpus Christi with West OSO ISD in fall 2018. The company’s junior high-level program supports academy teachers and programming focused on robotics.

Camp organizers hope #Code_IT will ignite participants’ desire to pursue STEM studies and careers, specifically a passion for computer science.



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.