Hack club host their first computer programming summer camp

Luke Hutchinson | Online Editor

Now that Hack Club has established itself, the club plans on reaching out.

Mason Hack club is a fairly new group comprised of students interested in computer programming (CP) and science. During the 2016-2017 school year, junior and president Megan Cui said she was planning a summer camp to host for younger students in the community. From June 27 through the 30, the camp took place at the Cengage Learning building; Cui said she was excited to see the amount of female attendees at a camp focused on STEM.

“As a female in STEM, I feel like I have so much to bring to the table because there is no divide between males and females,” Cui said. “The leadership team for our STEM program actually has two females, but also our summer program sign-ups were about 30 or 40 percent female — that’s a big deal, considering normal statistics are much lower than that.”

Cengage Learning associate and advisor Mike Heinen said he teamed up with CP students at the high school to establish the club because his son said there was no club dealing with computers; Heinen said Cengage jumped at the opportunity to host the summer camp.

“When I asked Cengage Learning, which is the education tech company I work for, if they would sponsor the camp, they were completely open to see more students solving solutions with code,” Heinen said. “We are kind of pioneers in the way that our leaders are passionate about teaching others about coding and Cengage is actually interested in spreading our club around the country.”

While the summer camp gave students in Mason a chance to have hands on computer experience at Cengage Learning, part of the funds from the camp are being put forth an Outreach program. Outreach director and junior Annie Wang said this will enable students located in downtown areas to get the same experience.

“Through Hack camp we have raised over 10,000 dollars and we want to use this to start programs for underprivileged students in the downtown Cincinnati area,” Wang said. “In July we plan to coordinate workshops with inner city children at Cincinnati recreation centers , where we will introduce them to CP and STEM.”

While the club founders said they have many plans after their summer camp — including the possibility of hosting their very own Hack-a-thon in September, which is an event where numerous schools come and compete in coding their own creation — the leaders and volunteers said they were glad to simply be helping children. Eighth grade student Kenji Schmaltz said the camp has taught him a lot of helpful things for his future in STEM.

“Honestly my favorite part about this camp is being able to be with my friends while learning something new,” Schmaltz said. “I’ve been introduced to a lot of tools that are helping me make basic websites, but they have inspired me to try and make something on my own that could be more complicated.”

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Photos by Aniya Longmire.