This summer we held the first Art of Code: Tech-Girls Experience through Tech Camp @ STAB. This experience provided an opportunity for middle school girls to get hands-on with coding through art. They cross stitched & 3D printed their own pixel art, coded art with Processing, brought their robot designs to life with the Hummingbird Robotics kit and coded a song with Python. They also participated in Dr. Andreas Gahlmannâ€™s pilot microscopy outreach project.
Why is it important to give girls these type of experiences?
A recent article from EdSurge, How Art and Dance Are Making Computer Science Culturally Relevant, provides some clues: "In order to gain entry into college and the 21st century workforce, all students need to be comfortable with both coding and computational thinking."
Meanwhile... "Nationwide, AP computer science is becoming more popular, and new initiatives aim to make it more inclusive as well. In 2015, the number of students taking the AP CS exam increased by nearly 24 percent. However, test-takers were overwhelmingly white and male, according to data from the College Board, which administers the AP test."
From our own experience this summer, we had girls who were already interested in coding along with those who were not necessarily comfortable with tech and were initially nervous taking this deep dive into it. What they all got out of the experience is a connection to computer science made relevant through their own creations.
Spotlight: Grace Culver
Each month we spotlight a woman or girl in tech who inspires us. This month we are highlighting Grace Culver. Grace is a rising second year student at the University of Virginia studying computer science in the Engineering School. Before coming to UVA, she knew very little about computer science or engineering as a whole. Now, after her first year, she is very passionate about computer science and excited to continue to learn more! This summer she shared that passion for CS with campers during Tech Camp @ STAB and the Art of Code: Tech-Girls Experience.
Why is it important to get more girls and women interested in technology?
After completing my first year in the Engineering School, I have truly realized the importance of getting more girls and women interested in technology. Many times, I was the only girl in a group and sometimes felt uncomfortable sharing my opinions or didn't feel like I was being fully understood by my group members. I also found that I usually had less experience with the programs or languages we were using than the boys did, and was therefore at a disadvantage. I believe that girls and women bring a different perspective to technology that is necessary to make the most productive, innovative or user-friendly technology possible. I also strongly believe that everyone should have the same opportunities to pursue their dreams, and girls should not be discouraged from following their passion for technology simply because they have had limited experience and feel "behind."
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would definitely tell my younger self to have taken a computer science class in high school. Although I do not feel â€œbehind,â€ I would have loved to have discovered my passion earlier so that I could have spent more of my free time exploring computer science.
August 12 - Bio-Med Tech-Girls Reception. We invite the community to join us in the i.Lab at UVA at 4pm for a reception where you can learn more about this program and meet the students who have been participating in it this year. Please RSVP.
October 1 - Girls' Geek Day at Crozet Elementary. Join us as a volunteer in our 5th year of sparking elementary school girls interest in technology and computing by providing a fun, collaborative, hands-on environment to learn new tech skills and helping them connect to other STEM programs in the community. Registration required & coming soon.
October 11 - CBIC Tech Tour. Open to middle and high school students from participating schools. Check to see if your school is on board the tour & sign up quickly. Spots are limited for this popular regional event!
Thursdays at 6:30pm - Tech-Girls Maker Club. The Maker Club is open to all women & girls who are interested in learning together how to bring our wearable tech fashion ideas to life through sewing & soldering, programming & electronics and more. Anyone under 18 must attend with parent/legal guardian. If you are interested, please complete this form.
Ongoing - Charlottesville Open Bio Labs. You can learn about the rising tide of synthetic biology and biotechnology through their classes and workshops. More info.
Ongoing - Playing Aces Chess is a group of teachers, parents, and interested community leaders who recognize the importance of developing critical and creative thinking skills in every student using chess. They hold chess events throughout the region. More info.
Ongoing - Tinkersmiths Makerspace hosts a wide range of workshops that are open to a variety of ages and experience levels. Check out their latest meetups.