Grant money helps students develop workforce skills through technology

Wednesday was more than just the National Day of Pi, but a big day for the Camp Navigate program.

Posted: Mar 14, 2018 10:30 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Wednesday was more than just the National Day of Pi, but a big day for the Camp Navigate program.

Kids filed in the door to get a front row seat to a special surprise.

Camp Navigate unveiled the first day of their coding program to students.

"They just pick it up, and they learn the concepts, and they do a great job," said Instructor Lauren Mayfield.

Mayfield is a student at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology studying electrical engineering. She is one of the instructors for the coding class.

"It's in computers, it's in video games, a traffic light... That's coding," she described, "It's just really fulfilling and exciting to teach them something like coding. If you think about it, someone thinks that computer science or coding is something really, really hard to learn, but really it's not."

In the class, students use programs that teach them the basic concepts of coding. Students learn to complete tasks and commands by clicking and dragging different items. Each program is catered to specific grade levels.

"You can move your character forward until it gets the acorn, for example," Mayfield explained, "So what they do is they can drag a move forward block down, and they can repeat that and drag another move forward block down. They do it until they have enough move forward blocks, and they move forward that amount of spaces to get the acorn."

The class is made possible through a $10,000 grant from the Wabash Valley Community Foundation.

Co-Founder and Executive Director Eleanor Ramseier says they were able to purchase Google Chromebooks and coding programs for the kids. In addition to that, Ramseier says they collaborated with Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for guidance on programs and assistance with the class, as well as The Life Center who donated a room in the building for a computer lab.

"The kids love it, they learn so much at such a young age," Ramseier explained, "and we thought this was the time to teach them."

Camp Navigate focuses on teaching children social and technical skills to carry with them into the rest of their lives.

"We are all about employability skills, and soft skills, and how to make kids a better employee, better student," she added, "We realize they get this in school, so we just want to compliment what the Vigo County School Corporation is doing."

With coding, organizers say it's a valuable skill that could open doors to bigger opportunities.

"I know not everyone is going to be a computer scientist or an electrical engineer," said Mayfield, "but I hope that it inspires some of them to think about it and then maybe even major in it in college someday, or just pick it up as a hobby."

Ramseier says they plan to offer the coding class in their summer program. If you're interested in signing up, you can click here to learn more.

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