High-Tech Youth Camp Instills 'Coding Mindset'

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(Image courtesy of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.) (Image courtesy of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.)

A summer camp run by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology that wrapped up last week is providing elementary and middle school students with a way to engage their minds at an early age. Connecting With Code, a second-year program that drew around 150 K-8 participants, lays the foundation for high-tech skills. Most importantly, Co-Director David Fisher contends, it helps students establish a "coding mindset." During an interview with Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, he said "the big thing we've got to do with these kids is we've got to make them realize 'you can do it,' right? So, you're going to see coding opportunities in your life, they're going to come up. You can do it, alright? And also, it's kind of fun, right? And if we can establish that mindset in them, they're just going to grow."

Fisher says a priority is to attract more girls to the program, a challenge that persists in science, technology, engineering and math initiatives and classrooms throughout the country. In the elementary levels of the camp, Fisher says the majority of participants -- 65 percent -- are girls, while only 15 percent of middle school participants are girls. Fisher says the latter figure is closer to the national STEM participation picture. "We're tying to figure out why we're losing females, why we're losing underrepresented (classes in STEM fields). And we think it kind of comes down to opportunities and experiences they get at an early age, so we're trying to get more women to join," Fisher said.

Earlier this month, the program received $23,000 from the Ball Venture Fund, a 20-year-old program from the Independent Colleges of Indiana Inc. that is sponsored by the Muncie-based Ball Brothers Foundation. Fisher says the funding will help the program become "bigger and better" for its third year.

You can find out more about the Connecting With Code program by clicking here.

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