The children look like they are just playing video games, but code camp offers a key to the future for creative kids.
Campers spent a week over the summer break learning to decipher and create code for Minecraft, the popular game. At the Minecraft Mod camp at Newton’s Attic in Kentucky, the program was just one of many coding and computer programming camp offerings.
Computer programming skills are extremely important for students who grow up in the digital age, says 12 year old camp participant Celia Zeliak.
“I really think we should do it more often, because coding is a really important thing that we should learn,” she said.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates 1.4 million computer-related jobs will be needed by 2020, but at current rates only about 400,000 computer science students will be available.
Legislators and educators in Kentucky have identified the need to foster interest and teach computer-programming skills.
Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, sponsored Senate Bill 16 in the 2014 General Assembly, a measure that would have allowed computer-programming classes to fulfill a foreign language requirement in Kentucky high schools. Although the bill did not pass, Givens said it sparked a much-needed discussion about the importance of computer science education.
“We were able to shine a spotlight on coding for its educational benefits and its employment opportunities,” he said. “That was largely what that piece of legislation ended up doing, it created some great debate and discussion and awareness that was not there previously.”
Code.org, a national nonprofit organization that advocates computer science education and computer programming or coding, recognized Kentucky in May 2014 for its “progressive state policy to make computer science count” as a core graduation requirement.
Kentucky Department of Education guidance states that based on course standards and the teacher of record, a computer science course can qualify as a fourth mathematics course or an elective science course if it involves computational thinking, problem solving, computer programming, and a significant emphasis on the science and engineering practices from the Kentucky Core Academic Standards.