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Convert To Code To Offer Free Student Workshop

Thanks to two recent Manheim Central High School (MCHS) graduates, area middle and high school students have a new opportunity to learn about computer programming. Caleb Weaver approached Danae Martin in the summer of 2016 with his idea about forming an organization focused on offering computer programming workshops locally. "We both share an interest in coding and technology, and we believe that it is important to learn about coding and computer science principles in the increasingly tech-saturated society we live in," Martin explained.

Seeing a need for providing students in Lancaster County with tools and resources related to computer programming in a tech-driven world, Weaver and Martin decided to create Convert to Code.

The inaugural Convert to Code workshop took place in June at The Candy Factory in downtown Lancaster. Freelance designer and front-end developer Bri Piccari taught a three-hour introduction to HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to 12 students. Afterward, each participant indicated interest in taking more workshops like it in the future.

The next workshop is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, at Millersville University. It will be an introduction to Java/Processing taught by independent software engineer Tim Freund. All workshops are free of charge and are open to students age 12 and older of all skill levels. To sign up, interested individuals may fill out an application at http://www.facebook.com/convert2code by Wednesday, July 26.

Martin noted that most school districts do not yet offer comprehensive computer science curriculums in spite of how heavily society relies on software. "Technology plays such an important role in our everyday lives, and by learning how to code or at least understanding the basic principles of computer science we gain the opportunity to better understand and even manipulate or control the technology around us," said Martin.

She and Weaver are both self-taught programmers. Weaver began programming in sixth grade, delving into both front and back end web development, as well as side scripts and writing a few desktop applications. Martin became interested in coding and first dabbled in web development toward the end of her eighth-grade year.

The duo's goal is for Convert to Code to be a free local resource that individuals of all ages, but primarily middle school and high school students, can utilize in order to learn how to code and further their understanding of computer science, as well as collaborate with like-minded individuals.

Weaver, the valedictorian of the MCHS Class of 2017, will attend Stanford University to double major in computer engineering and bioinformatics. Martin will attend Vanderbilt University. Although they will both be attending out-of-state colleges, Martin said their hope is for Convert to Code to continue to grow and attract a wider audience so that the monthly coding workshops can continue.

To learn more and stay tuned for future workshop dates, readers may visit http://www.facebook.com/convert2code. Anyone with questions may email converttocode@gmail.com.

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