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The Latimer Heights Intern Experience

My experience as an intern of Summer 2020

A project we worked on in P5.js

During the Latimer Heights internship with Riis in Summer 2020 we learned how to code in different languages utilizing different IDEs. The different languages we learned were Python, JavaScript, and a little of HTML/CSS. By learning all these languages we became fluent in different languages and applied similar logic to each one. We were able to learn about the importance of debugging and testing to make sure that everything ran as intended, something important to do throughout the stages of a program. We also learned about making a set of rules to complete a job, called an algorithm. We use a flowchart to show the basic algorithm that will be used and does not include actual code. These procedures are basic when it comes to any type of language.

Some of the first programs we made utilized JavaScript. Our first program was one that made a cool poster using canvases and shapes. We learned about the different parameters that you can change when making different shapes. For instance, you can change a circle’s radius and x and y position on the canvas. We were also able to change its fill, stroke color, and opacity to our liking. When using multiple shapes in a canvas, we had to acknowledge that there is an order we need to use when making the poster so that our shapes layer on top of each other properly. We also used different functions offered in P5.js to create an oscillator that changes sound depending on the position of the user’s mouse. One of our more creative projects was using images and shapes to make illustrative drawings. In these drawings we used loops and the random function while using the colors that we were going to use as the image we wanted to recreate.

Throughout the program there was no stress on interns to create something revolutionary nor there was competition. Interns were always open to helping each other and learning from each others’ mistakes. Additionally, we were never judgmental on mistakes by our supervisor because we acknowledged that even the more skillful can make small errors that are not noticeable to themselves. While we were working together on our own, we were able to have fun while being productive. We asked each other for assistance and advice on what to do and were not afraid of getting varying opinions.

As a somewhat culminating event, we were asked to join the Harlem Maker fair with Latimer Heights. This fair typically takes place outside of the computer but this year, due to obvious reasons, the event makers had decided on a Zoom meeting. We were introduced to others in the program and other specialists and learned from them. There were also different opportunities where we programmed something together, such as circuits, with instruction.

As a 16 year old minority, I value the time I had spent in this internship. This being my second experience working, I got more knowledge about independent and co-dependent working. Not only social skills, I was able to hone my coding skills that I have practiced in my AP Computer Science class. Even though I do not have a specific dream job in mind, I see these skills being implemented in the future. The soft skills that I have learned will be useful for any job that I apply for and will be able to help my coworkers when completing a big project. Additionally, the coding skills will help tremendously because the future is full of technology, games, and robotics. As a minority, having these coding skills will set me a step ahead of others and I might be able to encourage more to join the programming world.

Computer science is a fast growing industry that heavily relies on the thinking of not one person. However, there is a lack of diversity. This may have been an effect of poor share of resources. This makes Latimer Heights and other similar programs a must-have for the coming years. This industry will soon replace other industries. This means that if minorities or gender groups do not have access to learning these topics early on, there is a chance that they will not make it in the coming future. For a brighter future, everyone needs to have access to computer science programs that will teach them not only important life skills, but also digital literacy.

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Kelly Lam
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