Coding with Secondary EL Campers


When the bell rings on the final day of school before summer, most people assume the classrooms and halls won’t be used until August, but that is not the case in Madison! There are so many summer camps available to help students, athletes, and performers learn and grow. One particular camp that happens during the month of June is the English Language camp where students from different backgrounds and countries can learn and practice English, get connected with students and teachers, and have fun! The Secondary EL camp is led by a dynamic team of teachers from different schools who plan exciting activities for the students.

While these leaders are more than equipped to tackle any subject, they often bring in guest teachers or community members to help lead lessons. This group reached out to a current student at James Clemens, Pranav Somu, for his expertise in computer science and passion for teaching others about it. Pranav has an impressive resumé for a rising senior. Not only has he already taken many AP classes at JCHS, he has also already taken all the Programming and Software Development courses possible and leads coding competitions in North Alabama during the summer for younger students. It is always amazing to see students who have developed talents and skills in our district pour back into the district - it’s even more amazing to see it happen before they graduate!

Based on his previous experiences in teaching coding to younger students, Pranav led the students through an “unplugged” activity before jumping into coding on their computers. In this activity, students got in groups to develop code, or instructions, on how to get their team to navigate through mazes built in different locations in the school. Once some common programming vocabulary was established, students moved to their computers and were introduced to Scratch, a block-based coding language created by MIT. Pranav tactfully walked them through the basics of Scratch and established a whole group program for everyone to participate in. Then, the campers spent the day refining that group maze and, on the third day, knew enough to code on their own. By the end of the third day, students had designed, modified, and debugged their own mazes and spent time playing each other’s mazes. The students were so excited to show off what they learned over the past few days and many of them talked to Pranav about his experiences in Computer Science. Even though the coding lessons were a small part of the overall camp experience, it was a huge hit!