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Hoover teen runs virtual camp teaching kids how to code

A high school student from Hoover and two of his friends have teamed up in the last year to offer an online summer camp in computer programming to Alabama students ages 8-14.

Shaams Nur, 15, founded last year what is now known as HooverCamp with fellow high schoolers Leo Song and Victor Song. Nur is president of the camp, which offers sessions in entrepreneurship in addition to coding.

Students at the camp participate via videoconferencing software. The camp will host its next session in summer 2021. Those attending learn the basics of coding over a week and make a final project that is either a game or animation.

Coding is mentioned by economic observers as one of the most critical skills for the future of the American workforce. Coding’s availability in public classrooms has increased in recent years but is still not universally offered.

Nur told Yellowhammer in a recent interview that he was first introduced to coding as part of an optional enrichment program at Bluff Park Elementary School.

When he was “in the third or fourth grade” he made a game about a turtle trying to make it home after getting lost.

“I really loved that feeling of creating my own project, and I just want kids today to have that feeling too, but the thing is there are no classes that teach kids how to do this in our public school system,” Nur relayed about his early days of coding.

HooverCamp ran its first session in the summer of 2020 and ran two sessions in the winter, including their first in entrepreneurship.

Students interested in signing up for the summer 2021 session can go here. Nur said he and his team are still working on what the pricing will be for the coming year.

He promised the cost would be inexpensive, saying, “Our goal is not to generate revenue, we’re just trying to make an impact and let kids know that there is more to this career path than math and science.”

HooverCamp charged $60 for one of the winter sessions and $100 if a student attended both.

“We donate half our profits regardless to the Hoover Public library, we already did that this winter,” Nur added.

HooverCamp teaches its students to program in the computer language Scratch, designed by experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to be accessible by beginner coding students. Nur said he used the same language when he was first learning to code.

Yellowhammer asked Nur why he chose the age range 8-14 as eligible to take part in the camp.

“The reason we teach eight-year-olds is because we want to introduce them to the topic earlier. Studies have shown kids are more creative when they’re younger. … We really want to introduce them to these topics,” he noted.

The reason for the cap at 14 was simpler. Nur, at age 15, didn’t want to feel like he was lecturing students his age or older.

Nur said he hopes to create a self-sustaining version of HooverCamp by inviting students who excel to become teachers of future sessions.

“We can make this a huge thing in the Birmingham community, even the Southeastern region,” Nur said about the future of HooverCamp.

More information about HooverCamp can be found on its website.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.