Austin Peay's summer coding camps: Inspiring young coders and introducing a robot dog

Clarksville, TN (07/11/2023) — Austin Peay State University concluded another successful year of its summer coding camps, inspiring students from third grade to recent high school graduates. The program offered a variety of camps to accommodate a range of interests and skill levels.

The "Code Your Own Scratch Programs and Games" camp was popular this year among third, fourth and fifth graders. Kids explored coding and unleashed their creativity by building their own games.

Matthew Rutherford, a fourth grader from Rossview Elementary School, was one such camper. It was his first coding camp, and he was thrilled about making his own games.

"I wanted to go to a certain camp, and I thought coding camp would be fun," he said. "I enjoyed seeing the various games others created and being able to play them."

By the end of the week, Matthew had already decided to attend another coding camp.

"My mom and I will just search and see if there's anything else that could be fun," he said.

The high school camps were successful, with students designing their own Roblox games and websites. Of particular note was the "3D Video Game Development" camp, which transitioned to using the Godot engine this year. This free language makes learning easier for students, enabling them to be more creative with their games.

Students interact during one of the June camps.

Meeting the College of STEM's new robot dog

Campers were thrilled to be acquainted with Austin Peay's new robot dog. Seeing the robot in action, twerking and begging, was an inspiring example of coding and technological achievement.

Ethen Carrell, a camp mentor and master's student in computer science and predictive analytics, ran the dog and let the campers take over.

"I've just taken it out and told them what it's capable of," Carrell said. "The kids just go at it. Letting them play with it themselves really is the biggest way for them to be interested."

The robot dog was $32,000, including warranty, support, AI capabilities, and a complete materials curriculum. This purchase will enable students from various courses and studies to interact and present with it. The dog will benefit students in the College of STEM, regardless of their robotics experience.

Carrell is the sole student researching a robot dog this summer. He's responsible for showcasing its functions to the public and plans to make significant additions to the project, such as designing custom programming to improve the robot dog's interactivity.

"We really want to make our own custom programming so that we can make our own demos for it to do things without having to use a controller. That's the goal," Carrell said.

Austin Peay offered camps in their cutting-edge computer labs, providing all the necessary equipment. Led by both bachelor's and master's level computer science students, like Carrell, and supervised by APSU professors, the camps provided campers with a quality learning experience and a taste of university life.

The Department of Computer Science and Information Technology runs coding camps all year. For more information, visit

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Students interact during one of the June camps.

Students interact during one of the June camps.

Dr. Church leads one of the high school camps in June.