OGDEN – Weber Innovation Center has been far from quiet this summer break.
Still about a month out from starting school again, about 60 students from across Weber School District, and a few from other districts, gathered at the center for two different programs this past week.
The two programs — a six-week long coding program called Code to Success and a week-long robotics camp — concluded Friday.
Code to Success is a free program that exists across the state, and Weber Innovation Center is one of the locations where it’s offered.
Participants who complete the course and miss fewer than five days receive a certificate recognizing their work. They also have the opportunity to earn high school credit.
Students ranged in age from rising ninth graders to recent high school graduates getting a jumpstart on their first semester of college.
In addition to functioning as a launching pad for students new to coding, Code to Success can actually help students get better jobs as they work themselves through college — while gaining valuable experience in their fields at the same time.
“If you look at an IT job in college, compared to ... a fast food place, you’re going to make a lot more as an IT person, which a lot of these kids will have a lot of good experience (to get those jobs),” said Jake Harrison, a computer science and marketing teacher at Weber Innovation Center.
Ashtyn Archibald, a rising sophomore at Weber Innovation High School and a participant in the program, says she enjoys robotics more than web design, but she found the experience in Code to Success valuable, especially learning more about coding.
“It helped me understand coding a lot better, because when I did robotics, I didn’t really have a whole lot of coding experience at all, and I still didn’t really understand,” Archibald said.
Alex Carter, a junior who attends Weber High School, has picked up the coding skills so fast he’s become a sort of peer mentor, Harrison said.
Carter says he loves to learn, but he also builds computers all the time, so he’s not completely new to the area.
Code to Success offers paid positions to peer mentors who have completed the program, something that students like Carter would have the chance to do before they graduate from high school.
Carter wants to pursue computer engineering after he graduates, and this coding experience will prepare him for that path. It also connected him to a network of like-minded peers.
“Class was fun,” Carter said. “Made friends, made a little crew of people who are about the same level as me, and we all work together when we have problems.”
These friends are all from different schools, but Carter says they have each other’s phone numbers and plan to stay in touch, especially when they run into challenges they aren’t able to solve on their own.
The center’s other program, a week-long robotics camp, was for students who have participated in robotics club after school. As part of robotics club, students build robots and participate in various competitions during the school year.
By the end of the week’s camp, which students attend from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, most students will have built a complete robot. A project like that can be tricky to do in the limited time clubs have to meet throughout the year.
“We did the summer camp this year, just to give the kids a quick boost or a jumpstart on the year,” said John Donley, career and technical education coordinator over engineering and computer science for Weber School District. “What they’re doing is they’re trying to build a full competition-ready robot this week, so when the school year starts, they already have a working ... robot ... and they can just fine-tune different parts and get ready for competition.”