The non-profit group run by Chatham High School students and alumni teaching programming to younger students, is looking for partnerships.
CHATHAM, NJ — During this past summer, several Chatham High School students and alumni dedicated a week of their break to teaching computer programming in-person to students between the fourth and eighth grades.
After the program’s successful week, they are now looking to expand and partner with other groups in the community to grow their free, educational program.
Founded by Chatham High School senior Mihir Rao, the group of students which calls itself the “,” started teaching virtual classes to the younger students. However, the group brainstormed when COVID restrictions relaxed and collaborated with the Library of the Chathams to provide a weeklong and free camp in August in-person for their students.
The library’s Assistant Director Galina Natenzon called the “Learn to Code Camp” that the Coding Cougars created, a week that “exceeded all expectations,” with 44 of the fourth through eighth graders in classes at the library, led by the high schoolers. Rao and Aditya Sinha, the group’s Chief Operating Officer, were the lead instructors, Natenzon said.
In addition to teaching them Scratch, Python, Java and other lessons, the children played softball, basketball and were involved with other recreational activities that week, Natenzon added.
“The summer camp went much better than we could have ever imagined,” Rao stated in a news release from the library, indicating that the group knew the in-person environment would have been more beneficial for the students they had been working with.
“The camp was a clear indicator to us that our goal of expanding our efforts into more towns in New Jersey and neighboring states is justified,” Rao added. “Students who are eager to learn new technical computer science subjects should have access to free and high-quality computer science education.”
The Coding Cougars website shows there are other that have started up throughout the region, including in Hoboken, Morristown and Parsippany-Troy Hills, to help teach youngsters learn coding at no cost to their families. Coding Cougars chapters after school and over the weekends, the high school volunteers teaching coding to younger students in libraries and schools.
In addition to Rao and Sinha, the Coding Cougars is comprised of Chatham High School’s Kaye Stevenson as VP of Marketing, Pranav Venugopal the VP of Public Relations and Samuel Kaplan the VP of Outreach. Isabella Hoie who graduated with Chatham High School’s Class of 2021 and is a student at Cornell University, is the group’s VP of Diversity and Inclusion.
Rao said that any group that would like to start its own Coding Cougars chapter, help with an already-established one; or partner with the Coding Cougars or become a sponsor, should visit the group’s website .
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