UIC's broader outreach efforts extend beyond the campus border. On August 17, EVL research associate JD Pirtle and EVL MS computer science student Dennis Chau partnered to teach a one-day computer programming workshop to 15 Chicago teens as part of The Chicago Code Workshop. The Workshop is a private/non-profit partnership to provide hands-on technology learning experiences to underprivileged kids.
Selected for the Workshop because of their potential, these high-school students eagerly embraced the principles of programming. First explaining the basics, such as the definition of a 'variable,' Pirtle and Chau then taught the Processing programming language to enable the kids to quickly create images. They continued to add more complexity so that by the end of the day, the students had created simple interactive art applications where mouse inputs moved a shape around on the screen and changed its colors.
While most of us take technology for granted, these students don't have computers at home. Pirtle and Chau learned that many didn't even have email addresses, so they assisted them in getting email accounts. At the conclusion of the Workshop, the students received used laptop computers, courtesy of Getty Images, to continue their learning and exploration.
By the end of the day, both the students and the teachers had a rewarding experience. "Several students knew Facebook, but that was the extent of their use of computers," said Pirtle, "so hopefully the workshop encouraged them to pursue computer science or art careers."
The Chicago Code Workshop, held August 17-18, 2011, was organized by Feltpad Inc. and two local Chicago organizations -- i.c.stars and Reason to Give.
More information on The Chicago Code Workshop: