As the CS@SC Camps entered its 6th year, we took on a new form in summer 2020 to allow instruction to continue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. All the camps pivoted to online instruction, and it turned out to be our largest summer yet with over 1700 K12 students attending the program! Continuing with our targeted demographics, our K12 attendees were composed of 40% female, 70% minority ethnicities, and over 75% who qualified for free or reduced meals at their school. Our amazing TAs had similar percentages with over 60% female and 50% minority ethnicities.
We continued with the virtual camps in fall and had over 400 students attend the weekly program. Students start off by watching a 20-minute recorded lecture on a specific topic given by a USC faculty member. They then write a program with their TA and get a chance to practice the topic on their own with the TA being available to help. The instruction was completely virtual with students attending from the comforts of their homes. The results were more astounding than we could have imagined, with over 50% of the students attending more than one camp and over 25% attending more than two! Although the experience was different than the high-energy in-person camps we have run in the past, we are looking forward to being able to provide remote and in-person camps in the future.
We had students from Korea and the UK attend in 2020, as well as students from states across the US, and we are hopeful that the remote camps will encourage students from all around the world to be able to learn computer science from esteemed faculty and TAs regardless of geographic location. We are already succeeding in our mission of providing computer science education to K12 students regardless of gender, ethnicity, and family income, but perhaps we need to add another category to the list of students served – without geographic limitation.
This program is only made possible because of generous donations from people and organizations like the Institute for Education, and we are eternally grateful to our founding donor for the continued support. As we continue into our 7th year, we are excited to see how we continue to grow and make a difference in our students’ lives.