Maydm camp teaches youths how to code

Original story posted by the Wisconsin State Journal | PAMELA COTANT For the State Journal | July 22, 2019

Cara Hill was hesitant about signing up for a coding camp because she didn’t know anything about the subject and thought it seemed complicated. But on the fifth day of the five-week camp, she said she was really enjoying it.

“After you get it, you get it,” said Hill, a freshman at Middleton High School.


She said it is opening her mind to different careers, and her favorite part is learning all of the different terms.


“I like how it feels. I’m doing it by myself and getting it right,” she said.


Hill is one of the targets of Maydm, whose mission is to encourage girls and youths of color to enter STEM fields.

The organization is funded by community and corporate partners. The name is a play on “made by them.” The group’s founder and executive director is Winnie Karanja.


In its fourth year, Maydm started by offering single-day workshops, but demand for more from youths led to multi-week camps this summer.


The “An Appetite for App Development” camp began July 8 and runs through Aug. 9. The campers are building applications for Android devices, said JP Miller, curriculum developer and programs lead. Some other more social activities are mixed in too, in part with keeping with Maydm’s holistic mission.


“This is a summer program so we want the students to have a lot of fun, enjoying their time,” Miller said.

At the same time, they are getting real-world skills, he said.


Twelve students are enrolled. The cost is $2,000, which breaks down to $400 a week, but scholarships are available, Miller said.


Kiyem Obuseh, a freshman at West High School, said he has always been interested in robotics and electronics engineering and wanted to be able to do more in the BadgerBOTS activity in which he participates. “Everyone there is advanced,” he said of BadgerBOTS.


But he found that after the first day at camp, his understanding shot right up.


One of the camp’s activities was a visit on July 12 to TDS in Madison, a Maydm sponsor.


“I think what they should get out of the day is technology or STEM is everywhere and there is not one career path,” said Heather Bayens, project manager at TDS and a member of the company’s Women in Tech employee resource group.


In addition to touring the company, the campers did activities such as the “Exact Instruction Challenge,” in which they had to work together to come up with instructions for simple tasks like making a long-distance call without making use of the internet and making a paper airplane.


It’s a way to teach communication, she said. “You have to teach other people and explain what you’re doing to share your knowledge.”


Rommel Gouala, a senior at West, said he was “very enthusiastic” when a school counselor suggested the camp.


“I like computers so I want to learn how to program,” Gouala said. “It’s going to help in my future because right now I don’t know what I’m going to do, so it is a good idea to have some skills.”


Obuseh enjoyed touring TDS.

“It was really cool to see where people actually do coding and the jobs you can get,” he said.


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