UNIVERSITY PARKWAY -- Kids these days want to learn to code.
That much is clear from the Microsoft store's booked summer camp schedule in The Mall at University Town Center.
The camps are a part of Microsoft's YouthSpark programs. The YouthSpark camps are free and reserved on a first-come first-serve basis. In the camps, children 8 and older will engage in hands-on technology lessons and create games using tools such as Project Spark, Kodu, Microsoft WebMatrix, Windows App Studio and TouchDevelop.
The UTC Microsoft store summer camps offered between June 22 and Aug. 17 are booked full, but the store is looking at adding evening coding classes as well, said store manager Scott Pokorny.
"We've just had an overwhelming amount of response from the community," Pokorny said.
Between six and 10 youngsters can participate in each four-day, two-hour camp. Devices are provided for the duration of the camp. The number of children permitted in each camp depends on the curriculum and some weeks deal with multiple subjects, Pokorny said. They're designed to help children grasp and better understand the latest technology, build critical thinking and problem solving and introduce or build on coding practices.
Microsoft store employees have already seen how participants are sharing what they've learned with parents and friends.
"It's been a really cool experience with staff who have never seen this be
fore," Pokorny said. "Kids get excited and talk to parents and create a teaching cycle. They really integrate it into their lives."
There is a "substantial" waiting list for the summer camps, Pokorny said, but occasionally campers will cancel.
The store also hosts a variety of other weekly, all-ages events including Windows 8.1 workshops, OneNote 2013 workshops, classes on the fundamentals of Office 365, Madden gaming tournaments and Just Dance-a-thons, where attendees can play Just Dance on the Xbox One and Kinect game systems. For a complete schedule, visit the Microsoft store at UTC event website.
To be added to the waiting list, email the store's community development specialist Tracy Paar at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about other Microsoft events, call the main Mall at UTC line at 941-552-7000 to be connected to the Microsoft store.
Coding is important for anyone and everyone, Pokorny said.
"Everything we're doing from a technology perspective as a society lends in some way to understanding code," he said. "It's something that can only benefit your understanding of technology and computers and make you a more dedicated member of society."
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow O'Dea's 'Mall Things Considered' blog at Bradenton.com/business/mall-things-considered-blog/