Coding Camp

Introduction
It is believed that in the very near future computer coding will be as essential a skill to have for many entry-level positions, in the same way that word processing and spreadsheet facility is today. That is, the knowledge-based workforce of the future will be heavily dependent on computer coding skills. Around the world, developing countries are training more and more of their students in computer programming (coding), although much of that focus happens to be on cell-phone apps. Even at this level, the Caribbean is being left behind in the race. By not sufficiently developing computer programming skills in its population, the Caribbean is unable to take full advantage of its potential to build a modern-day workforce and to diversify its economies.

In order to help the Caribbean catch up with other developed countries, beginning in January 2018, the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), Scotiabank, and the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS will be partnering to launch a Level I pilot of the CSF Computer Coding Camps which will run on Saturdays in Barbados.

The goals of the coding camps are consistent with the overall CSF goals of helping to diversify the economies of the Region and raise the standard of living of the people by: (1) assisting with education reform to address the low numbers of Caribbean students pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering, (2) helping to train the technology workforce of the future, and (3) helping to stimulate more technology-based entrepreneurship by grooming the next generation of Caribbean science and engineering leaders.

Targeted Groups
Total enrollment in the 2018 pilot camps will be limited to about 25 participants. The targeted group includes students between 13 and 17 years of age, at-risk youth up to 25 years of age, disabled individuals, and a small complement of secondary school science and mathematics teachers who would like to gain some training in computer programming to take back to their classrooms. The goal for the targeted group also includes equal participation by men and women.

Camp Curriculum
In 2018, Level I will be offered to two cohorts of Barbados youth: Level IA (entry-level) for high-school students in the 13 to 17 age range, and Level 1B (also entry Level) for at-risk Barbados youth in 18 to 25-year range as well as some secondary school teachers. Levels IA and IB camps will meet on the same day but at different times. The Level IA and IB camps will focus on HTML and cell-phone Apps. For both camps,the first half of the syllabus will develop basic coding skills in the campers. In the second half, the campers will form teams, and the teams will focus on the development of simple Websites and mobile Apps that would address specific problems of interest to them. The camps will meet every Saturday beginning January 6, 2018, and will conclude on March 31, 2018 with a public showcase.. Campers are expected to bring their own computers to the camp as the CSF is unable to provide computers.

In the fall of 2018 or early 2019, a Level II camp will be added for intermediate and advanced programmers. The primary coding language for the Level II Camp will be Python, although other modern languages may be adopted as necessary for problem solving and specific applications. Level II will focus on the applications of coding to problem solving in a variety of areas including science, engineering, social science, art, and industries such as tourism and financial services. Examples of Level II projects could include video games, programming Raspberry Pis and micro-controllers for the control of machines (robots, drones, appliances, and the Internet of Things) as well as the processing of big data using machine learning algorithms, and other applications that may be of interest to the teams. Python has been chosen because of: (1) its versatility, (2) its widespread adoption today as the entry-level language of choice in the world’s leading science and engineering universities, and (3) to assist the Region in moving away from Pascal at the CSEC examination level.

Selection Criteria for Levels IA and IB Students
The Coding Camp Admissions Committee will be responsible for selecting the campers. Because of budget and space limitations, the Committee will limit the number of participants in each camp level. Only complete applications that arrive before the application deadline will be considered. Also, the age limit and the citizenship requirement will be strictly enforced. Thereafter, applications will be selected taking the following factors into consideration in decreasing order or importance:

  • The Admissions Committee’s assessment of the applicant’s interest and passion for STEM based on the submitted materials
  • The strength of the recommendations from the principal or teacher (for Level IA), or for Level IB, from a person in authority (e.g., work supervisor, clergy, teacher, principal, etc.) who knows you well
  • The age of the applicant (older applicants may be given preference over younger applicants who have to option to re-apply in a later year)

Student Application Form
The student application deadline is 03 December 2016. The links below provide the student application form (in .doc and .pdf formats) that can be used for the Level IA and Level IB Camps. Level II is not offered during this session.

2018_CSF_Coding_Camp_Student_Application_Form.doc

2018_CSF_Coding_Camp_Student_Application_Form.pdf
These forms should filled out and e-mailed back to the CSF headquarters along with the other requested documents.

Coach Application Form
The CSF is also seeking qualified coaches to help facilitate the camps. Applicants for Level I coaching positions will be expected to have facility with principles of web design that would include experience with HTML & CSS, Codepen.io, Ionic Creator, Javascript, AngularJS, Cordova, APIs Foursquare and WordPress.

For Level II coach applicants, facility with Python is expected. Level II coaches will be expected to have some experience with the application of coding to video games, programming Raspberry Pis and micro-controllers for the control of machines (robots, drones, appliances, and the Internet of Things) as well as to the processing of big data using machine learning algorithms.

Training for the coaches will take place in December of 2017. A modest stipend is paid to the coaches for the 3 months of the Camp. The links below provide the coach application form (in .doc and .pdf formats):

2018_CSF_Coding-Camp_Coach_Application_Form.doc

2018_CSF_Coding-Camp_Coach_Application_Form.pdf
These forms should filled out and e-mailed back to the CSF headquarters along with the other requested documents.

Camp Fees
The student camp fee of $500 helps to offset the costs of running the camps. For students who are unable to pay in full at the beginning of the Camp, arrangements can be made for weekly or monthly payments. A Camp Tee shirt and snacks are included in this fee.

Long-Term Anticipated Benefits of the Coding Camps
Long-term anticipated benefits of the Computer Coding Camps include:

  • Awareness raising and increasing the opportunities for more youngsters to consider science and engineering as career options
  • A more appropriately trained future knowledge-based workforce
  • Promotion of more technology based entrepreneurship
  • More self-employment opportunities for our youth
  • The formation of more globally competitive ICT companies that could bring in more foreign exchange
  • More and better paying jobs for Caribbean people
  • Scale up and spreading of coding camps into other Caribbean countries
  • Regional mobilization onto a path to catch up with the more developed countries in the ICT areas
  • Better preparation of our students for university study in the STEM disciplines
  • Ignition and nurturing of the inventiveness in our youth so that the next “Google” has a reasonable probability of coming out of the Caribbean

Regional Scale Up
The longer-term plan is to scale up the coding camp and offer it in other Caribbean Countries in subsequent years, beginning first with the OECS countries. Key operating partners of the CSF are the Barbados Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).

Caribbean Science Foundation

CARICOM Research Building
UWI Cave Hill Campus
Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies
Telephone: 1-246-417-7493
E-mail: csfhdq@gmail.com

For further information, please contact:
Prof. Cardinal Warde
warde.csf@gmail.com