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Coding Camp Makes Computer Science Accessible
Coding Camp Makes Computer Science Accessible
Posted on 07/13/2021
Swift App School provides coding instruction and scholarships to make computer science more accessible to teens.Featured Photos: 1. Bob Williams (Left), Melanie Grant (Center), and Mya Robinson (right) discuss app programming on July 8. 2. A student receives assistance while coding a game app. 3. Charles Long (left) assists Tav Murphy (right) during the app coding camp.

By: Benjamin Rickert
BCS Communications Dept.

A students receives assistance while coding a game app.Mya Robinson always wondered how her iPhone apps worked, so when she was offered a scholarship to the week-long Swift App School camp this summer, she gave the opportunity a thumbs-up. The July 5-9 camp taught area students ages 13-18 about computer science principles and coding techniques using Swift, a programming language centered on Apple’s mobile platforms.

“I like my apps, and I’m very technology-driven,” she said. “I wanted to know what was going on behind my screen.”

Mya, an incoming freshman at T.C. Roberson High, had no prior experience programming mobile apps. Fortunately, her curiosity and experienced instructors were all she needed to get started. Led by co-founders Bob Williams and Charles Long, campers learned to build a mobile app for a fictional amusement park called “Swift Flags.” From the ground up, each student created a functional app with features like a login screen, food menus, and season ticket purchasing. Throughout the week, students also created an augmented reality app and a simple two-dimensional video game.

“At first you think it’s going to be really complicated, but when you look at it, it’s not that complicated,” said Mya. “We learned how to send an alert when you placed an order. I get messages like that on my phone all the time, and so I thought that was really cool.”

Charles Long (left) assists Tav Murphy (right) during the app coding campWiliams and Long have taught coding to teens for much of the past decade, and even earned an Apple Distinguished School Award for a previous employer. By starting Swift App School in 2020, the duo aimed to remove obstacles for students interested in the computer science field, and make the know-how behind technology more accessible to students of all backgrounds and levels of experience.

“There are so many barriers to pursuing computer science,” explained Williams. “We're trying to break down those barriers and make it easier for teens to create the things they see on their phones every day.”

Hatch AVL provided Williams and Long with space to work with the students this summer, and local donors provided scholarships for students like Mya. Tav Murphy of Valley Springs Middle School and Melanie Grant of the Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr. Discovery Academy also received scholarships to the camp, and other students attended from A.C. Reynolds High, A.C. Reynolds Middle, Cane Creek Middle, and Enka High schools.

Williams hopes Swift App School will one day be able to team students up with local businesses for internships or specific app coding projects. He also wants to increase the number of scholarships available to encourage students to build new skills.

“That’s what it is all about — helping kids,” Williams added. “And it’s fun. They can apply these skills to any career field.”

Learn more about Swift App School. Upcoming student scholarship opportunities and applications will be posted in early 2022. 

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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