Summer camp teaches middle schoolers code, program design

MACS camp

Colorado State University hosted its fifth and final Math in Action in Computer Science summer camp this month. Over the last five years, the weeklong workshop has brought together 57 Native American students from Cortez Middle School to learn about computer science, mathematics, and college life at CSU.

The summer camp was established by Shrideep Pallickara, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and director of Math in Action in Computer Science. Pallickara’s 2013 National Science Foundation CAREER Award supported the creation of the camp.

Supporting Native American communities

“In the Native American community, the dropout rate between middle school and high school is high,” Pallickara explained. “My goal, when I began this camp in 2013, was to engage students in math by showing them how the concepts they are learning in school are applied to important, real-world problems in computer science and elsewhere. My hope was to encourage them not just to graduate from high school, but to pursue the goal of going to college.”

This year, 13 Cortez Middle School students attended the camp. During their stay, the students explored CSU’s campus while they learned to program and create web pages. Programs the students created included distance measures, measures of central tendency, matrix programming, and probability.

Careers, college life

Guest speakers from around campus and the nonprofit American Indian College Fund joined the students to discuss careers in computer science, financial aid opportunities, and how to apply for college. Students also got to experience CSU’s recreation center and pool, and participated in games and evening events.