Summer technology camp meet youth interest

The Daily News

Summer “coding camps” for young computer users are expanding to meet the surging interest in apps for smart phones.

In Muncie this month, 13 students took part in the “Adventures in Mobile Technology” camp.

“Are you the next mobile app millionaire?” the camp’s flier says. “Create your own apps for mobile devices [iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.]! Use the latest SDK [software development kit] to create games, movies, apps, videos and more.”

The camp is sponsored by the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities — a school in Muncie designed for gifted students.

“We taught 13 junior high students the basics of developing mobile phone apps and websites — like line-by-line HTML coding,” said Susie Cunningham, an instructor at the academy.

Other coding camps are set up at schools across the country. At Emory University in Atlanta, the iD Tech Camp teaches programming skills amid a growing concern that schools are failing to produce enough code-literate graduates to meet the demands of industry.

The iD Tech program has dozens of locations across the country with 28,000 students this year — up from 200 in 1999, The Associated Press reported. Students hope the training can lead to jobs in web design, film animation and app creation, among other areas.

Nationwide the growth of cellphone users and application downloads have increased dramatically. A 2012 Pew Research Center study found that 88 percent of American adults use cellphones and about 43 percent of these users download applications to their cellphones.

A 2012 Ball State study found 69 percent of college students use smartphones. That study estimated an increase to 90 percent use by 2014.

The academy has been hosting elementary, middle and high school camps for almost 10 years. Campers use Macintosh and Windows computers, including desktop models with touch screens that mimic the mobile experience of launching programs and content by direct contact.

Mastering the arcane demands of programming takes years of practice — far more than can be covered in a summer camp. But the training “exposes these kids to the environment,” Cunningham said.

“The main goal would be they get to take their projects with them and continue developing them at home,” she said. 

Delna Balsara was a camper from Granger near South Bend. She said the work was challenging, but a lot of fun. 


“Most of the things that we learned in here was new to us and it was fun learn them,” she said. 

A class of just 13 means students get individual attention — something appreciated by Allen Parker of Alexandria.

“I liked it because the size of this camp was smaller than the ones that I went before,” he said. “You get to know people more personally.”