2016 Summer program in Computer Coding at UCA

The Department of Mathematics in conjunction with the UCA STEM Institute and the Department of Computer Science offered the 2016 Math and Science Summer Programs @ UCA during the month of June 2016. The summer activities were for elementary, middle  and high school students from central Arkansas.   Thirty-seven students from Conway, Greenbrier, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Nashville and Wooster participated in the program. There were activities in Algebra for Beginners, Advanced Algebra, Exploring Physics and three sessions on Computer Coding for Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. Algebra for Beginners was taught by Ms. Haley Lafoon, a former math graduate student of UCA, who received her masters in mathematics education in Spring 2016. Mr. Brandon Ashley, a math GTA, taught Advanced Algebra. Mr. Sudheer Kavi, Senior Solution Developer for Acxiom and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science was the instructor for all coding classes and Ms. Katie Burden, a graduate student in mathematics, provided support for coding activities. Dr. Debra Burris, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics conducted the Exploring Physics workshops. Dr. Ramesh Garimella, Chair of Math Department and Dr. Uma Garimella, Director of UCA STEM Institute, organized the event. For information on future summer programs in mathematics and sciences, please contact rameshg@uca.edu.

 Computer Coding for Beginner (June 6 to 10, 2016)  Nineteen 4th to 6th graders from central Arkansas were involved in this program. The participants had lot of fun learning coding concepts and hands-on projects. A coding tool known as Scratch was used to build computer games, stories, and much more. Each day the students were introduced to new concepts like lists, variables, loops, blocks and how they are used in real world applications. With this knowledge, students will be able to take it further, extend their skills by practicing more, and moving into further programming languages like Python and Java.




Intermediate Computer Coding (June 13 to 17, 2016). Twelve 7th to 10th graders from central Arkansas were involved in this program. Seven of the twelve students participated in the Computer Coding for Beginners session in the previous week. Students used Python language to write small pieces of code blocks to accomplish tasks. Each day they were made aware of new concepts, working with data types, variables, loops (nested), function blocks, import modules and practiced them in the classroom. How the above concepts can be used in real world applications was discussed. On the last day, everyone participated in a group quiz and scored 95%. Overall, the participants had positive impressions of the activity.



Advanced Computer Coding (June 20 – 24, 2016): Five high school students participated in this activity. They explored the basics of Java programming with hands-on-projects.




Exploring Physics (June 6 – 24, 2016): Fifteen middle and high school students explored how light was related to astrophysics and observational astronomy, and how waves were related to plate tectonics. Also they explored electronics and its application to robotics.  Students experienced a fun mixture of hands on activities and demos, and further the students built and programmed a robot for a maze competition during the last week of the camp.




Algebra for Beginners ( June 6 – July 1, 2016): Eleven middle school students students worked on problems that covered content from pre-Algebra and Algebra I. This included ratios and proportions, pattern recognition, linear relationships and functions, and exponential functions. Discovery-based learning method was employed for this activity. Students interacted by exploring and manipulating objects, wrestling with questions and controversies, or performing experiments. Several fun an dinteresting problems were pulled from Mark Driscoll’s book Fostering Algebraic Thinking. Problems included whether it is more cost effective to take a shower or bath, how far a camera was away from an exploding bridge, and how many times you would need to fold a piece of paper before it reached the moon. Students were encouraged to ask questions, write on boards, made use of manipulatives, and worked either in groups or independently.


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Advanced Algebra (June 6-July 1, 2016): Six middle school students explored basic algebra skills typically found in a first year college math course. Topics were introduced at a weekly pace beginning with linear functions and equations where students used linear regressions to estimate their heights based on the length of their arm as well as calculating the value of the number pi. During the second week, quadratic functions were introduced along with some introductory physics. Students timed the flight of a ball dropped from varying heights and were able to calculate the velocities and acceleration due to gravity of the ball. General polynomial functions were discussed in the third week. Students were taught how to find relative minimums/maximums, increasing/decreasing intervals, and zeros of various polynomial functions; students constructed boxes to maximize volume. In the final week, inverse functions were introduced along with modular arithmetic. Students used functions and their inverses to encode and decode ciphered message