SSCC professor develops ‘Star Wars’ coding class

Three students from Southern State Community College recently had the opportunity to help teach two Star Wars-themed coding classes at a fan rally in California, and the same class is coming to SSCC’s central campus on July 25 and 26.

SSCC computer science professor Dr Joshua Montgomery said he was asked in May 2021 to create a coding class for DroidBuilders, a group that builds and supports the construction of animatronic droids from the series of “Star Wars” movies.

So Montgomery and his computer science students built 20 miniature domes inspired by R2-D2, a droid character from the “Star Wars” movies. In late May, Montgomery, along with SSCC computer science students Alex Bradshaw, Blaine Parker, and Elijah Siders, used the mechanical domes to teach two coding classes at Star Wars Celebration – Anaheim 2022 in Anaheim, California.

“I couldn’t be happier with the class,” Montgomery said. “It exceeded my expectations. The students were enthusiastic and proud of their work.

Montgomery said students who were in middle and high school, as well as a few STEM teachers, were able to program the domes to move, make noise and light up.

Bradshaw described the experience as a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.

“Being surrounded by people who are passionate about creating and building inspired me to continue my studies,” he said. “Giving my time to teach others has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

Parker said the event “allowed me to see a real storyline for my studies.”

“Not only was I able to see what I was learning come to life, but I was also able to help teach those skills to other students,” he said. “During this trip, I realized that you don’t have to go to a big school to do great things. Southern State has given me a life-changing event that I never dreamed would happen.

Parker also said the experience has shown him that “anyone can participate and excel at anything they think of if they have the right teachers.”

Parker and Bradshaw thanked Montgomery for his influence on their upbringing.

Montgomery said Bradshaw, Parker and Siders also spent time working on hands-on tech projects with young people at the rally.

“These three students were not only willing and ready to do whatever was asked of them, but they were also fantastic with children,” said Nancy Schunke, STEM director at DroidBuilders and teacher at Frenship High School. “Alex, Elijah and Blaine never complained and showed genuine enthusiasm…These Southern State students showed their strength while sharing their skills.”

Montgomery and the students will teach the same class at SSCC in July. Classes will be held on July 25 from 1 to 5 p.m. for students entering grades 6 through 9 and Tuesday, July 26 for students entering grades 10 through 12. The cost is $75, which includes course fees, snacks, materials, and a camp t-shirt.

Students must pre-register by July 20 to secure their place on sscc.edu. STEM educators can attend one class each of these days for free. Those with questions can contact Amy McClellan at [email protected] or 800.628.7722 ext. 3510.

Montgomery, an avid “Star Wars” fan, has built a full-scale version of R2-D2, and often attends events with the droid in tow.

The professor said designing the domes for the classrooms took more than a year.

“I’ve never prepared two classes so much in my life,” he said, “but it was worth watching the students get excited and hearing the inspiring stories.”

Montgomery said the most heartwarming moment for him was after class in California. Montgomery said a mother of one of the middle school students came up to him and said class was the reason they came to the event, and, while crying, told him her daughter was coming. to ask if he would continue to teach at the university. five years because she wanted him as a teacher.

This story was provided by Southern State Community College.

Dr. Joshua Montgomery, a professor at Southern State Community College, is pictured with some of his students.

‘A once in a lifetime opportunity’

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