NCLab Coding Camps

Aubrey White May 2, 2016

Technology in the 21st century changes at an ever-increasing pace. To be able to meet both their present and future needs, today's students need to develop skills that will help them adapt to and succeed in this environment. As a result, the Carson City Library has partnered with the Nevada State Library and Archives and NCLab to provide coding camps over spring break and over the summer. NCLab is an online suite of programs and courses that are designed to teach users the basics of computer coding, the Python programming language, and 3D modeling. The course is designed as a game, where students navigate a robot through a maze using computer coding.  Individuals are able to work at their own pace through the course while instructors provide one-on-one help and introductions to each course.  

Type: Self-directed
Age: Middle school
Optimal size: 11-20
Estimated cost: $100+
Planning time: 2-5 hours
Frequency: One-time

Learning outcomes

Participants will learn the basics of computer coding, Python programming language, and 3D modeling. By the end of the camp, students will also be better equipped to engage in problem solving activities, since a major focus of the NCLab courses is to teach students that it is acceptable to fail and to find multiple solutions to a problem.  Students will learn to be creative as they complete tasks in the course, and they will develop planning and decision making skills as they attempt to navigate the robot through multiple obstacles using computer coding. 


The NCLab software suite is comprehensive and provides an online textbook in addition to the courses. However, libraries will need to purchase logins for participants to use during the program. Additionally, while the Carson City Library has conducted full-day camps in the past, a shorter timeframe is likely to be used during the summer. The skills of participants also need to be evaluated in advance. While this program is geared towards middle and high school students, the 1st NCLab course can be taught to younger students. However, they usually lack the necessary knowledge to complete the more advanced 3D modeling course. Finally, instructors should be given the opportunity to go through some of the sections of each course before teaching a group. While the course is self directed, participants will get frustrated and require assistance, so instructors need to be able to answers questions and supplement the course materials with additional instruction. The size of the course will be limited by the number of computers that are available at a library, since each participant will need a computer with Internet access.


Participants can be evaluated in a number of ways. A survey at the end of each camp can be used to determine whether or not the students felt as if they were successful in learning the skills presented. After the one-day camps have concluded, additional camps will be conducted, and instructors can observe whether or not participants return to continue their instruction. Additionally, the Carson City Library will be providing NCLab logins as part of its Summer Learning Program, and interest in computer coding and programming can be assessed via surveys associated with that program.

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