Chatham ‘Coding Cougars’ Seek Community Partners

CHATHAM, NJ – Over the past summer, several students and alumni of Chatham High School devoted a week of their break to teaching computer programming in person to students in Grades 4 through 8 .

After the successful week of the program, they are now looking to expand and partner with other groups in the community to grow their free educational program.

Founded by Mihir Rao of Chatham High School, the group of students who call themselves the “Coding Cougars” have started to teach virtual classes to younger people. However, the group reflected when COVID restrictions eased and worked with the Library of the Chathams to offer a free week-long camp in August in person to their students.

Deputy Library Director Galina Natenzon called the Coding Cougars’ “Code Learning Camp” a week that “exceeded all expectations,” with 44 students in Grades 4 to 8 in the library classes, led by high school students. Rao and Aditya Sinha, the group’s chief operating officer, were the main instructors, Natenzon said.

In addition to teaching them Scratch, Python, Java and other lessons, the kids played softball, basketball and other recreational activities that week, Natenzon added.

“The summer camp went much better than we could have imagined,” Rao said in a press release from the library, indicating that the group knew the environment in person would have been more beneficial. for the students they had worked with.

“The camp was a clear indicator to us that our goal of expanding our efforts to more cities in New Jersey and neighboring states is warranted,” Rao added. “Students wishing to learn new technical subjects in computer science should have access to free, high-quality computer education. ”

The Coding Cougars website shows that there are other chapters that have started up across the region, including Hoboken, Morristown, and Parsippany-Troy Hills, to help teach young people to learn coding at no cost to their families. Coding Cougars chapters meet after school and on weekends high school volunteers teach coding to younger students in libraries and schools.

In addition to Rao and Sinha, the Coding Cougars leadership team is made up of Kaye Stevenson of Chatham High School as vice president of marketing, Pranav Venugopal as vice president of public relations and Samuel Kaplan as vice president of awareness. Isabella Hoie, a 2021 class graduate from Chatham High School and a Cornell University student, is the group’s vice president of diversity and inclusion.

Rao said that any group that wants to start their own Coding Cougars chapter is helping an already established group; or become a partner of the Coding Cougars or become a sponsor, visit the group’s website

Questions or comments about this story? Do you have a tip? Contact me at: [email protected]

Sam D. Gomez