LOGAN — After realizing he didn’t have the opportunities some high school students around the nation do, Billy Woltz is giving back to his alma mater.
A senior at Massachusetts Institute for Technology, Woltz is a double major in physics and electrical engineering and computer science. Through his time in school he has had the opportunity to help teach high school students quantitative biology and afterwards thought he would bring something similar back to Logan High School (LHS).
The first camp, hosted by Woltz and Alyssa Burns, LHS science instructor, was a success and they’re bringing it back this summer with three course options open to high school and middle school students.
“The fact that they would come to school over the summer I think showed a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for this topic. I feel like a lot of people view their computers as a black box and they couldn’t imagine making their own project to run on their laptop,” expressed Woltz.
The following are camp times and levels offered:
• Scratch Camp from 9 to 11:30 a.m.; for students entering grades six through nine where they will learn basic programming techniques using Scratch. This level is for students with little to no experience in programming. This course will help students learn how to organize their thinking about computers and how computers “think.” The course will build towards a capstone project in which students build their own playable video game in Scratch.
• Intro to Python Camp from 12 to 3 p.m.; for students entering grades eight through 12 where they’ll be introduced to writing programs in Python to solve problems. Students will later be able to apply problem-solving skills learned in camp to solve new problems, such as thinking computationally, organizing data structures, coding simple video games, and even creating artificially intelligent bots to play against.
• Advanced Coding Camp from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.; for students entering grades 10 through 12 who have completed the first year introduction to Python Camp at Logan High School or have learned the foundations of programming in Python from a different source. This camp will explore advanced topics as students work to apply their programming knowledge in new contexts. Topics will include analysis of algorithms, artificial intelligence methods and potentially others, such as numerical techniques, depending on time and student interest. This course may include some encouraged, but not required, homework exercises.
Max Burns, senior at LHS, attended last year’s camp and enjoyed it so much he’s thinking of perusing a degree in computer science. Burns says after taking the pilot course offered through the school year and the camp last summer, he has a pretty good understanding of Python coding and is excited to help introduce other students to coding with Woltz.
“I’m really looking forward to introducing new people to coding because I think it’s a way of thinking, such as logical or computational. I think it changes the way that they can solve problems in real life even if they don’t necessarily code things every day. I think that it helps me a lot and I think having basic coding knowledge is really useful and I’d like to increase access to that,” shared Burns.
The high school currently offers introduction to computer science, advanced placement computer science principles and some students are doing an independent study on another type of coding language.
Woltz is excited to bring along two other courses into the camp for students to advance and learn more about the field. His favorite aspect is witnessing students have “lightbulb” moments, when they initially can’t figure out what the code is doing and then suddenly, they understand it.
“This is something that is not a common thing you’ll learn in school and yet this is something that if you want to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in general, any science, technology, engineering field, you’re going to need to know how to program and the earlier you can start with that the more likely people will be to continue on with it,” stated Burns.
To sign up for the summer camp on July 17 and 18, email Alyssa Burns at email@example.com or call Logan High School at 740-385-2069 ext. 1119 and leave a voicemail. There is no cost for the camp.