19 7 / 2012
Girls Who Code
We had a great time last week doing a workshop with Girls Who Code—a terrific summer program in NYC that brings together high schoolers with an appetite and aptitude for programming. When starting out, Reshma Saujani, the program’s founder, repeatedly faced the question: “but do girls even really want to learn about technology?” The hundreds of applications they received and diverse inaugural class they put together was a resounding affirmation: YES, young women from a vast variety of backgrounds want access and exposure to technology.
The girls spent their first week getting comfortable with programming concepts using Scratch. In our workshop, we taught them to build simple MUDs (here’s one we made as an example). We wanted to showcase how expressive a visual programming language could be, and introduced examples of conditionals, booleans, random number generation, broadcasting/receiving messages, variables, and arrays.
We thought applying all these methods to their MUDs would be a challenge, but many girls barely needed any instruction—once they saw the examples, they quickly figured out how to add them to their own programs. Not only that: they told us they enjoyed the MUD activity precisely because they had the opportunity to explore the range of functional capabilities of Scratch. These girls were hungry for ways to make their interactive technology more flexible and powerful.
You can check out some of the projects the girls did during the first week here (unfortunately, not too many of them have posted their MUDs yet). This week in Girls Who Code, the students are getting exposure to robotics. What a cool program. We wish it had existed when we were growing up.
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