The computer science program has been hosting Girls Coding with Girls (GCWG) for five years and this recent session from November to December has surpassed all expectations. Over forty girls from grades fourth through eighth were gathered on Monday nights in the Warren Hills Library to learn coding.
Computer Science teacher Daryl Detrick has been helping run this program for five years. The original creator, Adesola Sanusi, is currently attending Harvard University for Computer Science with Google. Sanusi spoke to Detrick about creating a course to educate young girls about computer coding in the hopes that one day those students will wish to expand their knowledge of computers.
The group met every Monday night from 5:30 to 7:30, with 43 young women and split into two groups, double the amount of any GCWG event since its founding, and the response has been positive.
“It’s my first time here and I am having so much fun, so I am definitely going to do it again next year,” said fourth grader Kayleigh Steckel.
Since the recruit list was so full, Detrick and this year’s GCWG leaders had to come up with two different classes to account for the returning kids and the beginners. Anyone who had never even touched computer software before was in the Scratch group. Scratch is a basic site where code is already created and all the girls have to do is drag and drop each variable as needed, whereas girls in the Game-Maker course were experienced enough to write and place their own code.
“We’re coding a cat and mouse game where the cat icon is chasing the mouse icon,” said Tatiyana Soto, seventh grader at Warren Hills Middle School.
Detrick is very proud of his students for stepping up and organizing the program.
“The best part about this program is the high school girls being a role model for the younger girls,” Detrick said. “It gives them a chance to be leaders and it’s a great teaching experience.”
Shannon Sloan, senior mentor for GCWG, enjoys her work with the girls and believes that creating a bond between prospective computer science kids is vital to the growth of females in the computer industry.
“I answer any questions they are curious about, and try to help them with any problems they have while creating their codes,” said Sloan.
According to statistics, only 26% of women hold professional occupations in computing across the U.S. and senior mentor Maria Martucci believes this all begins in the classroom.
“A lot of girls tend to lose interest in STEM classes because they believe it is not a career option for them,” said Martucci.
It is the hope of all the mentors that these girls will pursue STEM courses in the future.
“STEM is such a lucrative field, but so many girls haven’t been exposed to it at a young age,” said Krupa Tishbi, senior and mentor for the Game-Maker group. “Some girls have a talent for it and would really enjoy computer science.”