Building New Worlds With Code

At The Works Museum, we’re all about inspiring the next generation of engineers and creative problem solvers. We strive to teach kids about STEM subjects in ways that are not only fun and interactive, but also have real-world applications.

Code Camp is one of our most popular camps, and will be offered seven times this summer. Some of these are special sections of the camp, just for girls. In this four-day camp, girls ages 9-11 explore computer programming using Raspberry Pi computers that are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. They will use the Python programming language to code their computers and run scripts into Minecraft. Instead of building brick by brick, girls learn to build entire houses by running lines of code.

Last summer, we visited one group of these campers on their last day of camp, where they were using their new coding skills to build houses in Minecraft. They were all excited to show what they were working on. “Can I show you something fun?” one camper asked before showing us how to code a hollow cube into the game.  Another camper proudly told us that she figured out a way to create a hole “to the end of the world.”

Our staff educator, Korey, said this week had been a special one for her watching the girls cooperate.

“It was really cool to see a student discover something new and have the rest of the class flock over to congratulate her.”

Every week she has a few students tell her it’s now their favorite camp, which “always puts a smile on her face.”

We asked two girls whether they had played Minecraft before starting this camp. “I’ve actually never done it before,” answered one camper. “I have, but it’s still fun and different when you do it this way with codes,” said her neighbor.

When talking with Korey about the importance of teaching coding to kids today – “We live in a world that depends more and more on using technology well, and Code Camp is a great way to learn the basics while having fun playing Minecraft.” It’s particularly important to make sure coding is a place where girls “can feel welcome and valued, so they don’t shy away from STEM fields or feel like they don’t belong there.”

We caught up with one of our partners in the tech field, GoKart Labs, who has hosted hands-on coding activities at events like Girl Time. Mark Hines, GoKart’s VP of Delivery weighed in on the value of these skills:

“When you learn to code, you’re developing a different relationship with technology from just using it. Understanding capability leads to seeing the world differently, making visible the unending opportunities to create new tech to help people… like helping them get well, be financially stable, or get access to better education.”

However you’d like to begin learning to code — whether in a camp or on your own — Mark’s advice is to just try it out. “The best advice we can offer for someone interested in tech and coding is to start. Imagine something that you think should be possible, and then go make it! When you get stuck ask for help… and share what you’re learning so that you can help the next person that wants to do the same thing.”

For more information about our Code Camps and more happening this summer, visit our camp page.