The thought of summer camp conjures up classic images of outdoor games or learning how to build a fire; not a room full of computers.

Approximately 40, 8 to 12-year-olds piled into an Ellensburg High School classroom packed with computers to eagerly learn the ins and outs of computer coding this week.

During a coding summer camp led by Tiffany Price, an EHS computer science teacher, 40 students learned how to build phone apps and the basics of computer coding.

Price explained the landscape of our society is becoming more and more automated by the day with fields you wouldn’t traditionally connect with as tech savvy. Even farming is jumping into the mix to use things such as drones to help locate livestock.

“So when I say students need computer science, it’s based on the fact that jobs have now changed and the skills required to hire someone,” Price said. “They’re looking for students, or people who understand and can work with computer systems.”

To Price, understanding the basics of computer science is not a choice anymore, but a necessity to thrive in our world.

“Between now and the year 2026, there will be over a half a million new jobs created,” Price said. “That’s not jobs that people retired from or moved out from, those are brand new jobs created and information technology is the No. 1 source of all new wages across all career sectors.”

According to Price, there’s a job shortage in the IT world for big companies like Amazon, Facebook or Google, but an even bigger shortage in areas that stem away from bigger cities. Price said in the valley from Yakima to Othello companies are looking for more people to work on computer systems.

Price was hired last year at EHS and despite her computer science program being very new she said she has had an overwhelming interest by students. In fact, Price currently has five computer science classes starting next school year.

Price believes in order to keep up with the times students should start learning about computer science at a young age. Price differentiates between consuming media like TV or video games to producing media.

“I think parents see the consumer side when their students sit on a video game or an app and they play it,” Price said. “What we do is we flip that and say, ‘No, you cannot play a game unless you have created it.’”

To Price, breaking the stigma that technology can stunt creativity is important to her. If done correctly, technology should actually be opening a new avenue for students to explore. Price points to her video game course as an example.

“It’s not just creating a video game, they create the whole exciting plot,” Price said.

When making a video game in its entirety, students must think up everything from the music sound tracks that will influence the mood to the schematic art and design of what their 3D character should look like.

Overall, Price thinks we’re entering an exciting and unknown time, but rather than fighting against the new it’s time to lean in.

“We need to find ways to reach our students and not think of how they should be,” Price said.

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