Over 140 Students attend 2015 MiBytes Computer Camps

High school students were able to learn about mobile app development, hacking and building, and game design and development.

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MiBytes, a series of summer computer camps hosted by CSE, is even bigger and better for summer 2015. The camps were first held in 2014, with a 5-day Tinkering with Mobile Apps camp and a 10-day Hacking in a Digital World camp, which were both taught by Dr. Jeff Ringenberg. Not only does CSE have these two camps for the summer, but the division also added a third camp entitled Game Design and Development, led by lecturer Jeremy Gibson.

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Students working together to build their apps during Tinkering with Mobile Apps.

MiBytes was created to provide high school students with a hands-on introduction to computer science. Computer science is an integral part of our lives and it shapes virtually everything from the objects around us to the ways in which we communicate, travel, work, and play. CSE believes that it is important for students to learn about CS at a young age, as it is now a key enabler for discovery and innovation.

Dr. Jeff Ringenberg explains, “The camp is being offered in a hands-on format that encourages the campers to engage in self-directed learning and computer science is generally taught the most effectively by having students “do it” rather than “see/hear it”. This type of active learning is becoming more and more common on college campuses and I feel that it is important to expose the campers to this.”

The program started with Tinkering with Mobile Apps, which took place from June 22nd-26th at the Bob and Betty Beyster building. This camp was ideal for students who wanted to learn the basics of CS by building their own mobile app with MIT App Inventor.  They were able to brainstorm the app, create the basic user interface, sensors, as well as other advanced features. Students also had the opportunity to take a field trip to Menlo Innovations, which is a software design company located in downtown Ann Arbor.

The Game Design and Development camp took place July 6th-10th, and this session was for students who wanted an introduction to video game design. The students used Unity, which is a cross-platform game engine, to learn about the process of game design. Campers learned about creating and controlling characters, levels, weapons, and obstacles. They also went on a field trip to Quantum Signal, LLC, which is a saline-based company that offers math-based engineering solutions to their clients. At Quantum Signal, the campers were able to see some of the company’s projects including their tactical driving simulator and their in-house video game called Rustbucket Rumble. On the last day of the camp, students were able to learn about game schools as well as how to get into the game design industry.

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Campers working during the Game Design and Development session.

The Hacking in a Digital World camp started on July 13th and will end on July 24th. This camp is directed towards students who are curious about a variety of computer science topics. Dr. Ringenberg, as well as a number of undergraduate computer science students, guides the campers through mobile app development, robotics, and embedded systems. Ringenberg states, “Through the incorporation of three different types of computer science, the campers are being introduced to a number of topics, all of which are foundational to the many different areas of computer science.”

The campers were also able to see real world applications of CS by visiting Barracuda Networks and Menlo Innovations. On the last day of the camp, the students will be able to display what they have learned to their parents and family at the camp expo.

MiBytes camper Barbara Bailey was able to attend all three camps. She explains “All three camps provide a different experience for the student. Tinkering with Mobile Apps was very relaxed with more time focused on creating your individual app. During the game design session, I was able to learn a lot in 5 days, and I enjoyed learning how to get into the game design business. I am also really enjoying Hacking in a Digital World since it covers a wide variety of subjects.”

CSE hopes that the 145 high school students that attended MiBytes this year will gain a better understanding of CS and continue to learn more about it in the future. The division also hopes to expose even more students to computer science next summer.

Diversity and Outreach; Division News; Jeffrey Ringenberg