TWU holds robotics camp for girls

Students show off their robots at TWU's Camp CoDE
Students show off their robots at TWU's Camp CoDE

July 13, 2022 – DENTON – Texas Woman's University's Computer Science, Future Classroom Lab and Education of the Deaf programs joined forces to hold Camp CoDE for Girls this summer.

Four deaf students – one from Denton and three from Dallas – and their teachers participated in the inaugural Camp CoDE (Computing in Deaf Education), which was held in June at the Future Classroom lab on the TWU Denton campus. The students built and coded their own robots.

The camp was for girls who, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lacked hands-on experience with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

"It was a terrific experience," said Chad Smith, PhD, professor with TWU's Future Classroom Lab. "Kids had a good time, teachers had a good time. It was really fun to see the girls teach the teachers. I think the girls caught on first."

Camp CoDE for Girls was made possible by funding from Communities Foundation of Texas. Much of that funding allowed the purchase of the robot kits that the children then assembled. The Bluetooth robots could be instructed for movement, speed, distance, time, changing colors. They even had an altimeter.

"The girls had to screw it all together and connect all the wires, and then code it using Scratch code," Smith said. Scratch is a block-based visual programming language aimed primarily at children ages 8 to 16. The camp students ranged in age from second graders to sixth graders.

"They all coded together and played together." Smith said. "When they finished the camp, the girls got to take their favorite robot. The teachers also got to take a robot.

"We wanted them to know that robotics and code aren't just boy things," Smith said. "We're giving them an opportunity to gauge how far they want to go with it. They really rose to the occasion and seemed really excited."

Smith is hoping to find the funding to continue the camps, and work with teachers to incorporate robotics and coding into their classroom instruction.

"Hopefully we'll have something for the school year," Smith said. "We're looking at funding opportunities from this foundation. I would like to see it grow if we can find the funding. The coding part is inexpensive, but the robotics tend to be expensive.

"We'd love to figure out a way to do it again."

Page last updated 11:17 AM, July 13, 2022