Igniting a passion for computer science

Igniting a passion for computer science

July 8, 2016


A new camp offered by Queen’s School of Computing is introducing teens to career opportunities in the field of computer science. 

Thanks to a grant from Google, Wendy Powley, a lecturer in the School of Computing and the Faculty of Education, has worked with a team of Queen’s students to create a summer coding camp for students aged 13 to 17. 

[Coding Camp organizers]
Lydia Noureldin, Suchita Ganesan, Daisy Barrette and Mary Hoekstra are some of the Queen's student-instructors creating, organizing and running the  coding camp. (Supplied photo)

“We have an extensive curriculum planned that will expose the students to many facets of computer science,” says Ms. Powley, adding that a computer science degree also gives students an advantage even if they don’t pursue a career in the field. “Combining computer science with any passion is going to get you ahead in this day and age. Try to think of a job that doesn’t involve computing in some way. If you have the advantage of computer skills, you are going to be a more attractive hire.”  

The camp is also a valuable opportunity for the seven Queen’s student-instructors as they gain hands-on experience in creating, organizing and running the program. 

Mary Hoekstra (Cmp’17), who previously worked in a similar computing outreach program with girls, is excited to “ignite a passion” for computer science in more young people. 

“I enjoyed seeing the lightbulb go off in their heads when they realized this is something they could actually do,” she says. “So when I got the email from Wendy I immediately thought that this was yet another  great opportunity to make that lightbulb go off again.” 

Similarly, Daisy Barrette (Cmp’18) is hoping that some of the participants discover the opportunities earlier than she did, after coming to Queen’s. Even though the camps have yet to start, she says it has already been a learning experience for her. 

“Since we are doing so many different topics, there is material that I have to learn so I can teach it,” she says. “I’ve learned so much already just from preparing. And I find when you learn something well enough to teach it or explain it to someone else, then you really know it. So I’m excited to be still expanding my awareness of computer science because it’s such a large field.” 

The weeklong camp runs the week of July 11-15 and again from July 25-29 at the Queen’s School of Computing.  Two members of the team are running a similar camp in Aurora, Ont., at the Aurora Public Library.    

To date very few female participants have signed up and while the camp is open to all, the organizers are hoping that more girls will join the program. 

For more information about the camp contact Wendy Powley or check out the Google igniteCS @ Queen's University website.

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