Coding and competing

Youth program robots during weeklong camp

Del Mar College held a five-day programing and coding camp for sixth- through eighth-graders, concluding in a robotics competition on July 21.

Starting on July 17, 24 middle school students from West Oso ISD and other Corpus Christi schools met at the Oso Creek Campus. Over the next five days, the students began receiving instruction and getting the chance to grow familiar with the various types of programable robots the camp uses.

According to Korinne Caruso, an assistant professor of computer science at Del Mar College, those first days can be difficult for some students, but they adjusted to the environment and their peers throughout the week.

“It’s an exponential learning curve; it starts off a little slow, a little fear,” Caruso said. “By Tuesday, they start to get out of their comfort zone and by Wednesday, they start flying.”

From the beginning, the students were split into teams. The teams would change over the first three days to best meet the needs of the students.

“It takes them time to get comfortable with each other,” Caruso said, but through working together and facilitating communication, the students found their place in the program.

During the camp, the students received guidance from former participants, referred to as mentors, as well as from members of Droid Rage, the Collegiate High School robotics team.

Over the course of the week, the students learned to operate two main types of robots, the Mbot and the Sphero. Both robots are capable of running preinstalled programs or can be programmed using block coding. On the last day of the camp, the teams performed in a number of competitions using these robots. Other robots used for the program include old competition robots controlled remotely, and drones.

By the end of the camp, the students had received eight hours of classroom instruction and 22 hours of hands-on experience.

The #CodeIT camp has been held at Del Mar College for the past five years, with the exception of the summer of 2020. Since the start of the program, it has gone through some changes, such as receiving new equipment and software. The camp has also had to adjust as a result of moving to the new Oso Creek Campus.

For those students interested in participating, or were recommended to the camp by a teacher, the program uses an application process and is free thanks to a grant provided by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Individuals interested in learning more about the program should contact Dara Betz at

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