Sunday, October 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Davis Arts Center: The art of digital literacy

By
From page A3 | June 25, 2014 |

Scratch Camp1w

Leading Davis Code Camp instructor Hanna Moradi works with one of the campers. Courtesy photo

It’s now widely accepted that education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) develops creative problem-solving skills that our children will need for success in all sectors of society.

With this in mind, President Obama has lent his support to a movement to include computer programming classes in required high school coursework. Although programming classes are not yet required in local schools, online classes have proliferated in response to demand.

However, most of these courses are dull, repetitive and not geared toward younger students.

Enter Davis Code Camp, which is partnering with Davis Arts Center to offer classes and camps in computer programming specifically designed to engage kids.

Jessica Chabot, a retired physician, and her husband Ray Valdes, a computer analyst with over 30 years of programming experience, founded Davis Code Camp after taking their own kids to “hackathon” competitions sponsored by Google, Yahoo and other big tech companies. The family won a few prizes and found that computing together encouraged creativity, brought them closer — and was loads of fun.

“It was such a positive experience for our family,” Chabot said, “that we wanted to find a way to equip other children and families for the (digital) future that’s coming at them like a speeding train.”

The foundation of Davis Code Camp classes is that the experience has to be fun and contain lots of positive reinforcement.

“Most online programming classes have a 70-percent failure rate,” Chabot said. “We’ve found that kids need lots of personal attention in order to succeed.”

The classes are taught under Chabot and Valdes’ supervision by UC Davis students (or recent graduates), most from the design and computer sciences departments. The ratio of students to teacher is kept around 6 to 1. Parental involvement is encouraged, too.

“Parents are welcome to sit in on the classes and we provide plenty of materials for them to be able to work with their kids at home,” Chabot said. “We know the kids will continue to learn if they have family support.”

Davis Code Camp currently offers two classes at the Arts Center: Scratch Programming & Robotics, for ages 7 to 14, and Minecraft Game Programming, for ages 8-14. Scratch, an introductory programming language developed at MIT, is given a real-world application as the students use it to manipulate actual robots. Sensors allow the robots to be programmed to move, avoid obstacles, change color and make sounds — a perfect recipe for fun, kid-friendly learning.

Minecraft classes are based on a popular online game — there are 40 million users world-wide, Chabot said — in which kids create their own worlds using lego-like building blocks. In the class, kids learn to use more advanced programming languages to modify the game, which most are already familiar with, by creating objects that they can transfer into the game, for example. Being able to enhance their own game experience is a huge reinforcement, Valdes said, because learning advanced skills allows them to affect the game in more ways.

Davis Code Camp classes are inclusive and designed to create a comfortable environment for both boys and girls, Chabot said. It’s an unfortunate fact that girls’ participation in the computer sciences has fallen dramatically — from 37 percent in the 1980s to 18 percent today, according to a recent Associated Press article by Martha Mendoza.

To combat that negative trend, Davis Code Camp recruits both male and female instructors (the current lead instructor happens to be a female graduate of the design department) and stresses collaboration rather than competition. Girls attending the class are given plenty of opportunities to work together, and female participation has been steadily increasing up to about 1/3 of enrolled students, as girls invite their friends and parents realize their daughters’ — as well as their sons’ — needs are accounted for.

Chabot said that she and Ray would consider offering an all-female class if there were enough demand.

“Unfortunately, there is opposition at every level to girls’ participation in technology,” she said, “so special efforts are needed to protect girls’ interests.”

Three new mini-camps for boys and girls have already been added to the Arts Center schedule and began taking enrollments this week: Scratch Programming & Robotics, July 7-11 and Aug. 11-14; and Minecraft Game Programming, July 14-17. So give Davis Arts Center a call at 530-756-4100 to sign up your child — and give him or her a head-start on digital literacy this summer.

Comments

comments

.

News

Howzat! Cricket tradition grows in Davis

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Housing First pilot project targets West Sac homeless

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

Return to sender: MRAP removal options go to council

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
$18.75M grant aims to build global food security

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Cop witnesses car-pedestrian collision

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Hawaii hit by winds, rain as hurricane veers west

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Evidentiary hearing set for man shot by CHP

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Firefighters on the town

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A3

 
Donate used books at Co-op

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Love-life tips on ‘Heart to Heart’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Volunteers sought to chip in on parks cleanup

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Crash victim ID’d as Woodland man

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

 
Senior Computer Club hears from county official

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Guns to be discharged at police range

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

 
DHS ski and snowboard swap set on Nov. 9

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Wolk sets ‘Morning with the Mayor’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Safe viewing of solar eclipse planned

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Fill the Boot for the hungry

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

 
Quiz Master Gardeners at open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Celebrate origami at Davis library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Esparto home targeted in three-city pot bust

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4

 
Apply by Friday for Biberstein grants

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Wolk earns perfect score from senior advocates

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

UCD celebrates 50 years of global agricultural success

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Special education information night scheduled

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

Be on the lookout for tagged Monarch butterflies

By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A16 | Gallery

 
.

Forum

Old news disturbs the present

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Take time to reach out for help

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A8

Are we there yet? Yik Yakking the day away

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A8

 
A bionic hand with feeling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Ain’t Snow Mountain high enough

By Our View | From Page: A14

 
Let’s take Davis’ energy future seriously

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14

Teach cyclists to obey laws

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

 
Proposed lights harm kids

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

Water theater isn’t fun

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A15

 
Elect Granda to board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A15

Yes on Prop. 47: reasonable changes to curb recidivism, save money

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

 
No on Prop. 47: an end to safe neighborhoods, and more victims

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

Be careful cycling on Fifth

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A15

 
.

Sports

Competitive Aggies fall at No. 6/7 Montana

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devils stick it to Chico, cancer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Vargas emerges from crowded Aggie WR corps

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

JV Devils fall to Franklin

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
Niemi leads Sharks to win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

UCD roundup: Big crowd sees Aggies nip Guachos

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

 
Davis is a temple for fine beverages

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Arcadia Biosciences earns spot on global innovation list

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
35 employers will be at West Sac job fair

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Rob White: Building an economy on innovation

By Rob White | From Page: A6

 
.

Obituaries

Sadie Louise Barga

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Morgan Wheeler

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Peggy Belenis Swisher

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, October 19, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8