Breaking the code: Chilton County 4-H enjoys STEM camp

Published 3:05 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chilton County 4-H students learned a new language on July 11 — the language of computers.

STEM. Camp offered many of the students their first experience in computer coding using Scratch, a code writing program created by MIT.

4-H volunteer Jason McCullough led students through the basics of making characters move, changing colors and adding sound.

“It allows students to create and share, and they can take other people’s projects and make them their own — modify them and do whatever they want to do with them,” McCullough said.

He said this layout makes it easy for students to learn.

“Everything is going to computers and the cloud, and all of that technology is based on someone coding something or creating something that’s digital, and this teaches them how to get started,” McCullough said.

Of the 17 students at the camp, at least five had previously used the program.

Camper Savannah Ford said she had never done computer coding, but she wanted to give it a try because it sounded fun.

She said she enjoyed learning how to program the different movements.

“I was really excited about coding, and I was really excited about meeting a bunch of new people,” camper Carissna Thomas said.

She had previously worked with coding for a class at Clanton Middle School.

Thomas said she enjoyed learning to make the program’s character go in different directions and how to hide and show the character during the camp.

This is the first time the camp has been offered in Chilton County, and it is the most popular 4-H camp this summer, based on pre-registration.

Pam Ousley of Chilton County 4-H said STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) has been added as a National 4-H program.

Ousley said a national STEM focus is planned for 4-H in October. She said the camp is serving as a way to get students interested and a little prepared ahead of time.

“A lot of the schools are not doing coding yet,” Ousley said.

Some schools will add it this coming year.

The STEM Camp was held in the Chilton County Board of Education computer lab.

“I’m so glad the Board of Education let us use their computer lab,” Ousley said. ” I love the partnership when they can work with us.”

Scratch is not limited to classroom use. The coding program can be accessed at for free.