Posted by Kassandra Lenters
@kasslenters

Kassandra is a teacher and digital designer based in Toronto.

March Break 2017: A Tale of Two Camps

In support of our mission to passionately promote digital literacy among women and youth, Ladies Learning Code puts a significant amount of effort into creating engaging content and workshops for the kids in our communities. One of our more immersive experiences to date exists in camps through Kids Learning Code and Girls Learning Code. These week-long technology camps challenge the idea that kids are simply consumers of technology.

What happens when we ask kids to design their dream games instead of asking them to play them? What change is affected when girls are equipped with the tools to promote their favourite causes? At our camps, we seek to answer these questions using content specifically created to inspire kids to grow from consumers into creators and builders of the technology they love.

GLCWebmaking2

We are extremely proud to say that, from March 13th to 17th, Ladies Learning Code held our 6th annual March Break camp season. Thanks to the support from our amazing March Break host partners, Pivotal and FreshBooks, we were able to run two independent camps simultaneously for the first time during March Break! In just one week, we exposed 70 kids to code! In one week, our campers had designed and created 8 new games and 8 new advocacy websites! How cool is that?

Here’s a glimpse of what our campers have been up to:

Kids Learning Code Gamemaking Camp at FreshBooks (Ages 7-9)

KLCGamemakingIt’s no secret that kids love games. When we ask our learners what they use technology for, you can always count on a handful to start passionately listing their favourite titles. At our Kids Learning Code Gamemaking Camps we build on this passion, taking kids through the stages of game creation step-by-step.

We began the week with the concept of game design, carefully considering elements like the theme, main character(s), enemies, challenges, and the overall objective of the game. Campers created physical prototypes of their characters and later masterfully digitized them using the online photo editor, Pixlr. As you will see shortly, there was absolutely no shortage of creativity in our classroom.

We spent the rest of the week creating awesome platformer games using the beginner-friendly programming language Scratch. To spice up their games and strengthen the theme, campers created and added their own instrumental theme songs using BeatLab! There was a lot of beat jamming that afternoon.

KLCHaloTeam

On Wednesday, Kids Learning Code campers were lucky enough to venture out on a field trip to none other than Ubisoft! In what was a fun-filled afternoon, we experienced live how the team at Ubisoft uses motion capture to make their games more realistic, chatted with a panel of game developers, and played around with an awesome virtual reality headset! We totally have to give a shout-out to the amazing Ubisoft team for putting together an incredible field trip. Thank you!

By Friday, the kids we17032017_KLCDemore excited to present their games for their friends and family, mentors, and the amazing FreshBooks staff members who were curious about what their young guests had been up to all week! Teams walked us through their creative process, elaborated on their favourite part of camp, and gave a live demonstration of gameplay to an enraptured audience! The public speaking and technical skills our kids displayed thoroughly impressed their families. It was also an inspiring afternoon for camp staff and mentors. The collective brainpower and creativity of the group of kids we were working with was clear to all of us. We were truly in awe of the talent in that room! You will be, too! Take a look at the games here.

Girls Learning Code Webmaking Camp at Pivotal Labs (Ages 10-13)

At our Girls Learning Code Webmaking Camp, we aim to show campers the power technology can bring to supporting an initiative or cause that they are passionate about! After all, what better platform than the internet is there for sharing information with an expansive and diverse audience.

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Our webmakers started the week brainstorming a cause to support with their soon-to-be developed webmaking skills. Once teams agreed on an initiative, they began digging in. Girls spent time conducting market research and designing infographics they felt best supported their causes. By the end of the week, they had learned to use HTML & CSS to create websites using Mozilla Thimble!

GLCWattpadFor their field trip, ourGirls Learning Code campers visited the Wattpad team at their headquarters, where they were met with an unplugged coding activity specifically designed for us! Amazing, right? Each team was asked to create their own puzzle/board game, debugging and problem solving along the way to find the most efficient path to reach all their collectibles. As teams raced to solve another’s board in fewer steps, it was clear the competition was on! The entire experience was incredibly rewarding, since so many of our campers are users of the Wattpad app. Thanks, Wattpad – you rock!

Like our game-making kids, the web-making girls also rocked their end-of-week demo presentations! Each team educated a room packed with parents/guardians, friends, and representatives from the tech community, on their cause of choice using the websites they had created throughout the week. From global warming to gender identity, every extraordinary initiative was focused on making the world a better place. It was inspiring to see the passion these girls have for the world around them! As a result, some of us may have even shed happy tears. Don’t believe it? Check out the projects for yourself!

GLCWebmakingDemo

A Massive Thank You!

None of the exciting events of last week would have been possible without the help of our mentors, and the families and friends of our amazing campers. We owe you a wealth of gratitude for sharing your knowledge, love, and support. We also have to thank the teams at Pivotal and FreshBooks for providing such welcoming spaces for us, and for allowing their staff to be mentors and workshop facilitators all week! You are all incredible. We hope you had as much fun as we did!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Want more?

The fun doesn’t stop after March Break! We have not one, not two, but 8 summer camps happening throughout the months of July and August. Check ‘em out here! Scholarships are available.

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