Thanks to Clemson grad Darryl McCune and his partner Hugh Martin, more than 120 young people aged 8-17 gained firsthand experience with IT, life skills and the arts during an eight-week summer program called the i-STEAM Experience (Innovation through Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics). McCune and Martin run CommunityCode, a high-impact nonprofit with the goal of introducing children to the world of IT so they have the opportunity to learn critical skills that will help them advance both professionally and personally.

photo 3Over the course of eight weeks this summer, CommunityCode offered the first i-STEAM summer camp experience to students in Greenville, South Carolina. The program introduced a diverse group of students to Information Technology and life skills such as finance, health and communication. Google’s CS First program provided materials and instructional supplements for the camp. Students learned how to design interactive games and stories as well as the principles of film production, animation, and music production. Participants were also given the opportunity to interact with speakers from a variety of different industries from around the Upstate.

“These initiatives are important because they introduce students from all backgrounds to many of the opportunities that will be available to them in the future, and they show these kids that the community is invested in their success,” said CommunityCode CEO Hugh Martin.

CommunityCode collaborated with the Phillis Wheatley Dwight Woods Repertory Theater to unite technology with the arts by encouraging camp students to research the time period surrounding the Motown era (1950s-1970s). The camp experience culminated on Aug. 1 with students giving parents and spectators from the community a “tour” of the era, a showcase of the Final i-STEAM computer science projects, and a theatrical performance titled “The Motown Sound.” The event was attended by more then 900 members of the local community.

“Students engaged in hands-on projects to problem solve, program and present ideas at a new level. They now have tools and pathways to IT careers,” said MBA in Entrepreneurship graduate Darryl McCune, CIO of CommunityCode.

photo 1“This kind of program is needed… so that children can understand and know how important technology is… because that’s where everything is headed in the 21st century,” said Sammy Dotson, artistic director of the Phillis Wheatley Association. “Our kids learn so much in the arts. If we can continue to find ways to tie the two (technology and the arts) together it will be truly great for these kids.”

“We are trying to help students from all communities to get jobs, and to inspire the next generation of design thinkers in the process,” added Martin.

CommunityCode and the Phillis Wheatley Association have entered discussions for an encore event, which is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 24-25, 2014. Please visit www.communitycode.org for more information about the event, and www.cs-first.com for more information about CS first.