How free coding camps launch career paths

Montgomery County Public Schools students developed apps for local organizations
By: | August 7, 2020
Administrators recruiting for free coding camps in Maryland intentionally selected students from underrepresented backgrounds and children living in poverty to participate.(GettyImages/kate_sept2004)Administrators recruiting for free coding camps in Maryland intentionally selected students from underrepresented backgrounds and children living in poverty to participate.(GettyImages/kate_sept2004)

Building a local talent pipeline for STEM fields was a key goal of free coding camps offered this summer to middle schoolers in Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools.

The more than 900 students in the Montgomery Can Code online courses—which were taught by Montgomery College instructors—focused on app development using Apple’s Swift platform.

Administrators intentionally recruited students from underrepresented backgrounds and children living in poverty to participate.

In fact, students from the district’s highest-poverty school got the chance to sign up first, says Scott W. Murphy, director director of the Department of Secondary Curriculum and Districtwide Programs.


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“This effort is about early exposure in middle school before students start a CTE pathway,” Murphy says “We want to light a spark into IT and also open access to students who may not have has these experiences before.”

Teams of campers followed the Everyone Can Code curriculum to prototype an app to meet the needs of a local company or nonprofit.

The curriculum challenges students to solve puzzles to learn programming concepts.

The students then got to pitch their ideas to instructors and local professionals, and participate in a showcase at the end of camp. Murphy says

Throughout this process, students not only learned programming but also practiced problem-solving, teamwork and project management—skills that can be applied to any career path, Murphy says.

Enrollment in the camp nearly tripled this summer, the second year the program was offered.


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