Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Central Library Hosts Computer Coding Camp for Middle and High School Students

More than a dozen Birmingham area teens now have insight on how computer coding is used to create movies and video games, thanks to the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and community partners.

On July 11-15, the Central Library hosted the Steel City Hackers Coding Camp for middle and high school students. Generously funded by a UAB Benevolent Fund Local Agency Grant, the coding camp offered local teens a week-long opportunity to learn how to code and create their own movies and video games.

Teens used ALICE, a computer programming environment designed to teach code and offered free to the public by Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to gaining a better understanding of the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, teens learned the importance of algorithms and the building blocks for learning and applying other computer programming languages.

“This program fit well with our mission to provide 21st century informal education programs at the library,” said Lance Simpson, teen librarian for the Central Library. “Our teens had a blast learning to code in ALICE. They had wonderful instructors in Ms. Keiah Shauku and Ms. Kelly Creel.” Simpson said many of the teens started out with no knowledge of computer programming, and by the end of the week had all created a complex video game or interactive video that demonstrated their newly advanced programming skills.

“We are so grateful to the UAB Benevolent Fund for the support of such an innovative program, and look forward to offering more programs like this in the future,” Simpson said.

In early June, the Central Library partnered with the UAB School of Engineering to host another free week-long computer camp as part of BPL Teens Engineer Birmingham, an afterschool program funded by a $50,000 grant from the UAB Benevolent Fund Grant Program. Simpson and Carrie Campbell, grants and special projects librarian, submitted the grant application on behalf of BPL. The money will be used to expand BPL’s teen engineering afterschool program from Central Library to other Birmingham public libraries beginning this fall.

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