This school year is going to be a new and intriguing experience for many, especially the many freshmen who have to learn how to navigate an almost entirely online college semester. Some incoming freshmen specifically expressed concern about learning how to code and keeping up with material in their computer science classes. To help alleviate some of these worries, the CS department held an optional week-long boot camp run by Professor Elsa Gunter from August 12th through August 19th, of which some WCS officers took part in. This camp helped familiarize students with resources that freshmen would be using on campus. Meetings included an introduction to git and some beginner-friendly coding concepts.
Angie Cheng, a WCS member under the Outreach ChicTech committee, prepared and presented to the bootcamp about git and the most common git commands: git clone, pull, status, add, commit and push. She went over the terminology included with git and explained the concepts that seemed the most confusing to beginners. She also created helpful guides for Github Desktop and explained how to access Github from the Command Line.
Professor Gunter created repositories for all the students via github-dev.cs.illinois.edu and pushed starter code into the student’s repositories. The Lab Assistants helped the students pull the starter code from these repositories and add changes into commits. The students then learned to push the finished code back into github-dev.cs.illinois.edu.
Professor Gunter showcased the visual drag-and-drop programming language named Snap by demonstrating examples of programming concepts such as if/else, for, while, etc.
Students used snap code put in their repositories by Professor Gunter to create a card game layout. The game allowed students to understand the usage of functions and variables in developing code.
During week 2, Python programming was introduced to students with the intention of translating the Snap activities previously done into the new language. They worked on laying out cards again, this time in Python, through the usage of functions given to them in their repositories.
Students also learned about IDE’s(Integrated Development Environments) like PyCharm and Python IDLE (Integrated Development and Learning Environment).
Professor Gunter added all participants of the bootcamp into a piazza class and gave them access to office hours information and links. The office hours timesheet contained days and times where Lab Assistants would be available to troubleshoot questions any participants had throughout the program.
The camp was managed and overseen by Professor Elsa Gunter. Lab assistants were chosen and had meetings prior to the sessions, in which discussions on activities for the day would take place.
A Confidence Booster
The camp was meant for students without extensive knowledge of CS to gain confidence and feel comfortable starting their work with technical material. The camp was managed in a way that fostered an inviting environment, of which students were able to talk to Lab Assistants during breakout sessions and discuss how to transition to college in the best way. Lab Assistants were able to give advice and make participants feel more comfortable walking into the unknown that is college.
A big thank you to all of the wonderful lab assistants who helped make this bootcamp possible!
- Aaksa Nair
- Angie Cheng
- Ankitha Damisetty
- Anuraag Agarwal
- Ariane Taraki
- Charlie Jung
- Dev Satpathy
- Dev Wadhwa
- Matthew Jakimovski
- Nikita Jain
- Richard Gunter