Shanna Martin, Executive Director of Horizons at St. Richard's, was fielding calls from parents wondering why their children wanted to be picked up late on Wednesdays this past summer. The answer? CoderDojo, a US2020- run coding club being facilitated by volunteers during Horizons' aftercare program.
Horizons at SRES is a six-week summer program aimed at decreasing the learning loss that low income students experience during the summer months, a time during which their higher income counterparts are continuing to learn and grow because of their access to educational summer programming. Horizons offers students high quality academics as well as cultural-enrichment and confidence-building activities such as swimming, arts, and sports.
"CoderDojo has been a great extension of the Horizons program because it's learning that is fun," Martin said. "The children are learning how to organize their thinking and express ideas using technology. It's such a valuable enrichment activity that I'm hoping we can continue to offer it to students in the future."
This past summer, three volunteers from Sharpen and T2 Systems worked with a group of 10 second and third grade students for an hour each Wednesday of the summer program, facilitating their understanding of computer science through coding games. And while it is enlightening for students to learn the basics of coding, it's just as fun for volunteers.
"I'd say the most rewarding aspect of the experience was the excitement and level of engagement demonstrated by the students each week," said one volunteer. "I've always enjoyed working with kids, and though it can sometimes be trying, the joy on their faces whenever they solved a challenge, or grasped a new concept, was contagious. It reaffirmed my love of coding!"
US2020 also facilitated summer volunteer opportunities at the Lilly and Wheeler-Dowe units of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, bringing in 24 volunteers from 4 companies to expose students to exciting STEM programs like Math Pentathlon and CoderDojo. The addition of summer programming is new for US2020, which facilitates mostly after-school programs during the school year, but with such great feedback from students and volunteers alike, is definitely something that will be repeated next summer!