YSU CSIS Runs Jackson-Milton Coding Camp

From July 31 to August 4, 2017, the Computer Science and Information Systems Department at YSU conducted a week-long coding camp at Jackson-Milton High School. The camp was created to introduce Jackson-Milton high school and middle school students to various aspects of the computer science field.

With the help of Dr. Bonita Sharif, recent Computer Science and Mathematics graduate Benjamin Clark coordinated several activities that allowed students to experiment with coding and programming. Together, Sharif and Clark created activities that taught the students about computer science topics like binary numbers, error checking, graph coloring, and learning how to give computers commands.

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Throughout the entire camp, students could work individually while focusing their efforts toward a similar goal. Almost every student walked into the camp without any knowledge about coding or programming.

To start off the first part of the camp, each student was introduced to the Raspberry Pi. Through this system, they all learned about programming, basic circuitry, and interacting with their prototype circuits using C++. Shortly after learning these skills, they were then able to use the Raspberry Pi to control the motors on their robots. On their last day, they were introduced to a programmed eye tracker system that allowed the students to play a video game with only their tracked eye movements, nothing else.

All equipment provided in the camp came specifically from the NSF outreach funds presented to Dr. Sharif. The NSF grant was awarded to Dr. Sharif in 2016. To read more about the grant click here.

When speaking to each of the students, it was obvious that they truly loved the aspects of the camp. A high school student, Mackenzie Martin (junior), entirely enjoyed her time in the camp.

“I really loved how easily everyone was able to catch me up with missing the first few days of the camp,” said Martin. “They broke everything down really well even though I was behind everyone else.”

Another high school student, Garrik Cataina (freshman), commented that “the entire camp was so well rounded. I enjoyed all of it: the socializing at lunch time, talking with the volunteers, and learning how to code.”

Dr. Sharif also spoke very highly of her experience at Jackson-Milton, saying “we are very thankful to Mr. Vega, Jackson Milton High School’s principal, for the venue to conduct the camp.”

She would also like to give credit to the YSU SERESL volunteers that assisted with the program throughout the week: Alex Bonnette, Alexandra Fountaine, Devin Patrick, Christopher Hardaway, Mark DeGenova, Bob Collins, Natalie Halavick, and Nick Iovino.

“My favorite part about the camp was getting the students to understand what computer science is about,” said Dr. Sharif. “I enjoyed being able to provide them with hands-on experiences where they could troubleshoot and debug issues what popped up.”

This was the first coding camp YSU has done at Jackson-Milton, but they intend to continue doing them annually. For more information about the camp, or future computer-related camps, contact Dr. Sharif at bsharif@ysu.edu.

To keep up to date with the YSU’s CSIS Department, make sure to follow them on Facebook!

Student Organization Spotlight: The Information Security and Ethical Hacking Association

ISEHA LogoThe Information Security and Ethical Hacking Association is a student organization devoted to teaching its members about security threats and exploring how to safeguard digital information.

While most people think of hacking as a negative thing, the ISEHA looks at hacking in a different way.

Members of the ISEHA think it is important to understand what goes into hacking so they are able to protect their own information from any threats.

Wes Stanton, president of the ISEHA, serves as a mentor to many of the students involved.

He gives demonstrations at the meetings and will help some of the others in penetration testing.

“It’s kind of at all levels,” he said. “During those little demos I did, I let them go by themselves and see if they are able to do it, and then I did guide them through it at the very end to show them the specific steps that I would take to be able to break the server or to get into my switch.”

Though the ISEHA does not have any specific events planned for this semester, more student involvement will lead to more group activities.

In the past, these students have competed nationally in cybersecurity competitions and they have held several local capture the flag style matches among themselves.

“Another thing that we’re trying to do is get speakers in. We have a lot of people who are very qualified on campus here and people who I’ve been talking to on Facebook to talk and give lectures, and we just want more people to show up to those,” said Stanton.

If you’re interested in joining ISEHA, email Stanton at wbstanton@ysu.edu, visit their Facebook page, or stop by a meeting. Meets are in Meshel 116 on Fridays at 5:30 p.m.