University of Vermont

University Communications

Tarrant Code Camp Expands Offerings in Second Year

Registration still open for August 4-8 event

Tarrant technology in classroom
The Tarrant Institute aims to improve education through technology-rich learning. Here, Students from Peoples Academy Middle Level check out some of the technology the Tarrant Institute explores for deployment in classrooms.

After attending the 2013 Tarrant Code Camp, Dayle Payne went back to Georgia Elementary and Middle School where she works as a computer teacher/technology integrationist and started teaching Ruby programming. Her decision to co-teach the programming language along with the three students she brought to the camp resulted in some unexpected learning outcomes.    

“The camp is a great experience, especially if you go as a co-learner with some of your own students,” said Payne, who was among about 40 attendees at least year’s inaugural camp. “It changes the relationship with your students and empowers them when they teach it to their classmates. They helped other students use Ruby in my class and one of them even developed a mentorship with our computer technology programmer. For me, just seeing how other people teach computer classes was very helpful and allowed me to incorporate their techniques into my own classroom.”

Penny Bishop, professor of middle level education and director of the Tarrant Institute, received similar feedback from other educators around the state who brought students with them to learn new skills in coding. “We know of no other place that uses this approach and think that bringing teachers and kids together is a critical component of the camp’s success,” said Bishop, who expects the camp to almost double in size. “We are particularly thrilled that participants from last year's Code Camp integrated new ideas and skills into the curriculum of their schools and we have high hopes that even more participants will do so after this August's event.

This year’s camp, sponsored by UVM’s Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education established in 2009 with a $5 million gift to UVM from the Richard E. and Deborah L. Tarrant Foundation, is slated for Aug. 4-8 and has expanded its offerings to five strands: robotics, game development, app development, Web development and computer art. Each strand is taught in a state-of-the-art Macintosh computer lab by an industry professional and a licensed Vermont educator, along with a student teaching assistant, in order to keep the student-teacher ratio low. Students are encouraged to work through problems and exercises in their target language that increase in difficulty.

“We believe that the hands-on focus of these strands will open participants' eyes to the vast potential of coding for success in a variety of 21st century careers,” said Bishop.

Students in grades 5 through 12 and educators of all ages, including homeschool parents, have access to state-of-the-art computers and tablets; guest lectures and activities by Vermont programming industry professionals; nutritious lunch and two snacks each day; at least one guided physical activity break each day; and a commemorative t-shirt and re-usable water bottle. The camp culminates with an all-camp community celebration, to which families and community members are encouraged to attend and see first-hand what students and educators have learned to do with a week’s worth of coding.