Cracking the Code with Meteor, Bootstrap, Foundation… and Ukuleles

By Sanjana Shah, Girls Innovate! Teen Committee

Being a Girls Innovate! Teen Committee member and having some basic HTML, CSS, & Javascript knowledge, I had the opportunity to mentor about 40 middle and high school students this summer at CodeCamp, a coding camp consisting of two four-week sessions held in East Palo Alto and started by Stanford students – Shadi Barhoumi, Rafael Cosman and Patricia Perozo.
I arrived on June 26, 2014 and, in just a few minutes, realized that the teaching and mentoring strategy of this camp was totally different than any programming camps I had ever mentored at before.

MentorCodeCamp2Not only powerful frameworks like Meteor, Bootstrap and Foundation were used, this camp focused on team work and building relationships. The emphasis was not just on empowering kids in web programming, but to make them interested in these web technologies. There were ukulele, games, jokes and snacks. Kids in this camp were not from elementary school. They were middle and high school students and many of them were older than me. They were all connected by one goal – to learn, come up with original ideas of their own and build something they wanted to build.

This idea of this camp was to give kids the first two weeks to learn HTML, CSS, and Javascript and the next two weeks to come up with their own projects. Karaoke MentoringCodeCampbonded the students together by giving them breaks and making them work as a team. To close the day, participants were also taken to field trips at technology companies, where students had the opportunity to ask employees about their work life. I myself enjoyed going to Meteor, mingling with the employees and making new friends.

Another important part of this camp were the hackathons, where the students collaborated intensively on software projects and demo’d these projects at the end. Each student had his/her moment to pitch an idea, build a team, and take his/her product to the market. Mentors and Stanford students were on standby to help with every aspect of the program.

Both CodeCamp and Girls Innovate! have taught me new leadership skills and, most importantly, self-confidence. Being a mentor made me realize how to approach these students and give them hints and not answers. This was one of the most lively programming camp at which I have mentored, where kids shared their thoughts, asked questions openly and, best of all, had fun. I laughed, learned and really enjoyed being part of this program. Thanks to Shadi, Rafael and Patricia for making the opportunity possible!