Episode #60 Computer Game Coding Camp for Autism provided by Clemson University & Microsoft

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 Computer Game Coding Camp for Autism is a two-week camp for high school students and rising seniors on the autism spectrum (ASD) that exposes them to high-level video game development and networking with peers. Throughout the two-week camp, campers learn the high-level processes of software development, game development, interpersonal communication, collaboration, and end up with their own game, from scratch.

We are excited to host this camp for the second year in a row. This year, our two-week coding camp will be provided in two formats, virtual through Zoom and in-person (on the Clemson University campus). Campers may participate fully online, fully in-person, or choose one week to be online and the other week to be in-person. It is recommended that campers register for both weeks.

In addition to learning to code, campers who reside on campus will participate in activities and instruction designed to further develop their executive functioning, problem-solving, and self-advocacy skills, which are necessary for college success.

2021 Camp Dates
Week 1: Monday, June 14 through Friday, June 18, 2021
Week 2: Monday, June 21 through Friday, June 25, 2021

The Zoom virtual sessions will run from 12:30 - 3:30pm EDT Monday through Friday. The in-person campers will have morning instruction related to college readiness and coding sessions from 12:30 - 3:30pm EDT Monday through Friday.

Contact us at: cgcc@clemson.edu
The above information can be found at https://codeatclemson.com/

Camp Registration Information https://www.clemson.edu/summer/summer-scholars/cusp.html

This episode is transcribed via OTTER.AI & available at autisminactionpodcast.com

Sponsorships: on for this episode

Automatic Transcription from Otter.ai

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Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the autism and action podcast today we have got some really big information for you guys coming up. It's springtime now Well, almost springtime, and we are going to be sharing with you something coming up in the summer. We've got a very special guest today Andrew bago with Microsoft Corporation. They are partnering with Clemson University to bring you guys this amazing program. We've got Miss Paige Roger Garrow. With Clemson University. She's an assistant professor, and we've got Mr. Tom basin, the coordinator of the autism spectrum program. Welcome to the show, guys. Thank you so much for taking time to be here today.

Sure, thanks. It's great to be here.

Well, Andrew, I can't wait to hear all about this program you guys have coming up in the summer, who it's for and what it's about?

Sure, well, we are offering the Clemson game coding camp this summer, which is an online video game programming camp for high school students with autism. And our goal is to reach out to high school students generally, across the country, who might be interested in learning how to program video games, while also learning the communication and social skills to work in a team, which is a skill that is actually super important for anybody interested in majoring in computer science or who believes that computers are something they want to do in their career.

Absolutely, this sounds so interesting, because I think this is going to give high school students a lot of different skill sets, is going to give them a lot of self confidence going forward as they start to transition out of high school into the workplace or in the college. What kind of skill sets are you guys hoping to teach during this program.

So we've really got three, I'd have to say. So the first one is going to be a general programming skill set. So for those who are interested in programming, we're using a programming environment called go dot, which is a game programming engine. And so it has its own little scripting language, which looks a little bit like Python. And in addition to programming, we'll be teaching video game design, which itself is a whole field. I mean, there are colleges that have majors specifically in video game design, if you ever wanted to build something for the Xbox, we're going to try to teach you how to do that. But we're going to focus on two dimensional games. And then we also will be teaching communication skills. So reading, reading, speaking, listening to others, and especially the most important one teaming skills of how to work with others in a team, because most people want to just everybody doesn't know how to work together. I mean, you have to be taught skills on how to be a leader, how to be a listener how to work in collaboration with one another and coordinate your work so that you can get things done. And those are the kinds of skills that we're going to be teaching. Specifically, we're be doing a lot of scaffolding for the autistic students. And that means that we're going to be providing a lot of scripts, and thing, instructions for them to follow explicitly to practice these skills without having to just come up with it on their own, we're going to say, here, do an interview with the other members of your team, here's a list of five questions, we'd like you to ask the other person, and then you swap. And then that way they get the practice. So to be able to do those skills, and then they might be able to use those in the future when they're teaming with other people in high school or when they if they go to university there as well.

For the autism community, I think this is very important to to point out this is going to really help hone in on some of those executive functioning skills and functional analysis and really help them work towards their goals of improving those those kinds of skills. Is this program all virtual?

Yeah, well, we've last year we ran it all virtual because of the COVID crisis. This year, I think the goal is still we intend to run it virtually, at least for us, because I don't think not really sure by June rather, there'll be enough vaccinations. But for those who are in the South Carolina area, who are close to Clemson, I think there may be opportunities to come and visit the campus. But primarily, I think we're going to be heading I'm going to be certainly reading up virtually, from

Mr. besian with the spectrum program. And you guys partnering, is there anything that you'd like to add there? Sure. So

we did pilot this program last summer with most of the incoming freshmen students that we had, that we have in the in the spectrum program at Clemson. So that was mainly to give us a run through and to get everyone used to kind of what the units were going to look like week to week and get some feedback from our incoming freshmen on just kind of what the curriculum was like for them. And whether they found it valuable. And to kind of see how they handled the different tasks demands, of course, will be, you know, teaching a slightly younger group of students this summer overall. And so there might be some slight differences. But we feel pretty confident that we can fine tune things for this summer. And we really are appreciative of the feedback that the incoming freshmen students gave us last summer.

That's awesome.

We're also looking at having some students come to campus as part of summer scholars to participate in the program. And so they may have the opportunity to come to campus for a week or two and participate in the same program that's being offered online, but have the experience of living on campus and, and getting used to kind of a campus environment.

Such a great offering, is there a cost involved with this program?

Yeah, that should be up on the website once we have that up and running. But yes, there is there is a fee for the program.

Okay, and the best way for them to learn more about the program? Is their website currently up for them to go to or did they just need to reach out via email?

Currently, there's no website, but we are working on one, we do have an email, it's the gcc@clemson.com. And that is the easiest way to contact us currently. But we will have a website up shortly. So that would be the best way. And I guess we should also say the dates the dates of the camp or the 14th to the 25th. of June, but that does not include the weekend. So it'd be Monday through Friday for three to three and a half hours a day. We're finalizing some of those details currently.


we we have a big team with multiple professional software engineers in industry and students who work on this camp. And so we're just finalizing schedules with everyone.

I just wanted to add one thing, so that the email addresses cgcc clemson.edu.com. I don't know where Clemson comm is gonna go.

Again, cgcc@clemson.edu. Just for clarification, thank you page. Thank you, Andrew. And, Tom, a little bit more about your target audience for this. I know you've mentioned high school students. Are these any grades in high school or that the higher grades or lower grades?

Our main target is ages 16 to 21. and high school students. Okay, and that information will be on our website as well, once that gets up.

Now with the participants last year, Mr. VSAN? How many people did y'all have in the program last year?

So we had I think seven students participated in the pilot project. And we're looking at as many as 30 students this summer.

Okay. So 30 students, ages 16 to 21. Is it a requirement for them to be in high school or just within the age bracket? Right now we

are making it a requirement to be in high school,

or some kind of accredited program that you're in that provides a high school diploma at the end of it. So homeschooling works as well.


Is there any additional information about the particular program that y'all would like to share?

Do you want to share a little bit about the sexy stuff?

Sure. So one of the things we did last year is program is we kind of asked a lot of questions of the students as they were taking a course because we wanted to see what kind of impact would this have on the students especially we know, from prior research that explicitly teaching communication skills should have some kind of positive impact on collaboration skills of computer science students. So what we did is we asked students to fill out surveys every day, and ask them we kind of before and after every class, we discussed all the students and sort of talked about what are the different skills that we think we want to work on with each particular student every single day. So this is a very one on one hands on type of teaching instruction, which we hope to do replicate this year as well. And what we found in talking to the students is while they learn programming and programming is the primary goal of the camp and video game development. In fact, one of the most impactful change that came over the students was their increase in their communication skills. It turned out that many of them hadn't that hadn't ever worked in a group project when they were in high school, they always worked on themselves. And in particular, because this is often the challenging aspect to artists, for autistic kids to be able to work together and socialize in that way. We were concerned that the communication skills that we were teaching them might go over their heads, or they might just not appreciate what exactly what they're getting. But it turned out that just having the experience of trying to work with others, was such a positive experience for several of the students that talked about it, one of them kind of made me cry, because she's like, she said that it was the first time that she found out that other people cared about what she had to say. And before that, she pretty much thought there was nothing like nothing, she could do what's worthwhile at all. And that was amazing. I mean, that just she worked in a group of two other people, and had such a significant experience. And I hope that continues to have an impact on her university career as well.

But it sounds like this experience definitely has a lot to offer. It sounds very rewarding. And it sounds very educational throughout the process. So I'm really, really super excited that you guys can partner with Clemson spectrum program to get this out there. And hopefully, we can help you guys find some of your participants to in the process.

That'd be great. Thank you very much.

Thank you guys so much for taking time to be here and share about this. Guys, if you want to find out more send an email to see gcc@clemson.edu

Let's Discuss!

Now, we would love to hear from you.

Do you have questions? Do you have ideas? Do you have an opinion? Do you think we missed something?

Let's have a discussion in the comments below or head over to the Autism in Action Facebook group. We would love to hear from you!

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