Convert to Code celebrates first anniversary with coding workshop

By on June 21, 2018

Caleb Weaver (left) and Danae Martin, who graduated from Manheim Central High School in 2017, founded a youth-run organization to foster an interest in middle and high school students of computer coding. The organization, Convert to Code, celebrates its first anniversary this week with a Beat Box Website Development workshop held June 28 in Lancaster. {Photo by Rochelle Shenk)

Convert to Code, an organization seeking to inspire middle school and high school students throughout the county to get involved with computer coding, will celebrate its first anniversary this month. Founded by Manheim Central Class of 2017 classmates Caleb Weaver and Danae Martin, the youth-run organization offers free computer coding workshops.

Martin said the first workshop was held last year on June 28; the organization will celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of the workshops with a new workshop from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 30. Katrina High, a Lancaster-area software engineer, will lead the Beat Box Web Development workshop held at The Candy Factory, 342 N. Queen St., rear, Lancaster.

While learning the basics of HTML5, CSS and Javascript in this project-based workshop, participants will be turning their browsers into interactive musical experiences.

“It’s a great free opportunity for any students in the area who are looking to learn some code. It’s suitable for individuals with little or no code experience,” Martin said.

This will be the 11th coding workshop Convert to Code has hosted.

“Our ultimate aim is to engage kids and help them learn a little about code in a relaxed setting with knowledgeable instructors and teaching assistants. I think that for some people, we definitely are doing that. However, it’s always a work in progress,” Martin said, “Our original targeted age group is fifth through 12th grade students. The average age of our participants is 12 to 14 years old, however we’ve also receive interest from those who are younger and older, so we’ve increasingly seen a wider range of ages at the workshops.”

Martin said nine of the last 10 workshops were held at The Candy Factory, which has sponsored the workshops. A workshop in July 2017 was sponsored by Millersville University’s Department of Computer Science and held on campus at Roddy Hall. Martin said attendance varies depending on the topic, time of year, and the lead time for advertising, but typical attendance is anywhere from 10 to 30.

A number of Convert to Code workshop attendees are return participants, and Martin said they often bring a friend.

“Our teachers are very knowledgeable and students typically learn a lot in the three- to four-hour workshops,” she stated.

As the organization enters into its second year, there will be some changes in its leadership team, which includes co-founders Martin and Weaver, as well as Gabe Stewart as head of operations. Martin said some of the new leaders have not yet been finalized, but the new team will include her younger brother, Isaac Martin, and Stewart’s younger sister, Olivia Stewart. Martin said the team is considering pursuing 501(c)(3) status for the organization as well as hosting some informal, group sessions where students can come together to work on projects.

Martin, herself, has also learned a lot in the past year.

“Crafting and sustaining Convert to Code has taught me the importance of persistence, the beauty that networking can produce, and has helped me fully discover some deeper interests of my own. Not only have I learned, and am continuing to learn, how to effectively work within a team to instigate change in a community, but I have experienced firsthand the generosity of strangers (now friends) and how rewarding it can be to just cold call or cold email individuals and see what comes of it. People love to help other people, especially when they see that they’re passionate and want to succeed,” she explained, “Additionally, I’ve realized how much I love running Convert to Code, and now foresee building my own business and/or working to help grow an organization, small business, or startup in the future.”

Anyone interested in the Beat Box Website Development workshop can register at convert2code.com or on facebook.com/convert2code. The workshop is limited to 30 people.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

 

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