From July 30 - Aug. 3, 35 students from 20 area schools came to St. Anne's-Belfield School for the first ever SPARK! Exploration program. The week-long workshop served as a computer science learning and hackathon experience for students in Grades 5 - 8 with the help of seven youth mentors and computer science teachers and program coordinators Kim Wilkens and Zach Minster. Similarly to the annual Upper School SPARK! Hackathon, the program fosters a diverse community of problem solving and collaboration.
"I liked how they let us have hands-on experience with all the technology they have here. It was a lot of fun because we had to interact and figure things out together. The staff was very helpful, too," said Eleanor N., a rising seventh grade student at Kate Collins Middle School in Waynesboro.
Activities included tackling topics like game and web design, computer vision, hummingbird robotics, and Micro:Bit. After studying the basics, participants were given the opportunity to take what they learned and apply it to projects they defined for themselves. The week culminated with a demo party where family and friends viewed what the students had made, including projects like educational Scratch games, websites about the environment or supporting charities, and mobile apps to help share stories.
"I think this week showed my creative side more. I've been creating things with my friends that I never thought I could do," said Cortez A. '25 who built a website to answer questions about the workshop itself for his final project.Learn more about what the students learned at summerspark.stab.org/explorati