Girls Who Code Fall Cohort Complete Another Semester Filled with Tech and Fun

The Leonardo’s second ever cohort of Girls Who Code met on Saturdays this fall, wrapping up a semester of computer science on November 23rd.

Our lab was brimming with energy as we welcomed two groups of incredible girls – eleven 6th-12th graders and thirteen 3rd-5th graders. We started off getting to know each other and becoming familiar with all of the online resources for coding and all the places programming is used.

Abi and Marilyn
Ana and Sophia
The 3rd-5th grade girls focused primarily on Scratch this semester.
Scratch is a free online site with drag and drop, preprogrammed blocks of code that snap together. Check out our Girls Who Code at The Leonardo Scratch Studio where you can find some highlighted projects!

The club added their own flair to an existing Girls Who Code game on Scratch. After trying out the game, the girls made a list of what changes they would make or personal touches they would add. With the help of each other and volunteers –Megan (graduate student), Paula (graduate student), Britney (university student), and Asia (high school student)–they modified the game. Here Marisa is adding a giant dog (left) and Gracie turning the character into a trendy VSCO girl (right).

Marisa
Gracie

Both groups received a visit from the University of Utah College of Engineering Engineering Ambassadors to hear more about women in STEM careers. Current university students told the girls about what they do, what it’s like to be pursuing a STEM career, and what advice they have for these young coders. This visit also happened to be during our fun Halloween party!

Kashmira and Amelia

Code.org was also a well-loved resource for our girls.

Here, Kashmira and Amelia are starting a block-based coding experience called “Dance Party,” in which they use pre-programmed dance moves and motions to create an array of sprites dancing to the beat of popular songs. Here are two examples made by Silvana and Zoe!
Silvana’s Dance Party
Zoe’s Dance Party

While the 6th-12th grade girls experimented with Scratch, they kept it as a comfortable favorite to go back to whenever they wanted. We challenged them this semester to learn text-based coding. With the help of two fantastically talented volunteers, we introduced Python. What was our favorite way to learn Python? Tina the Turtle on Trinket!

During our last day celebration, the girls were introduced to HTML coding as we compiled and personalized a website. Each girl put together a page with images, text, and embedded Python code. Check out their website here!

Go Utah!

Both groups received a visit from the University of Utah College of Engineering Engineering Ambassadors to hear more about women in STEM careers. Current university students told the girls about what they do, what it’s like to be pursuing a STEM career, and what advice they have for these young coders. This visit also happened to be during our fun Halloween party!

The Leonardo's Girls Who Code Halloween Party

Both groups also got to take a field trip to the University of Utah’s Center for High Performance Computing (CHPC) Downtown Data Center (DDC) to learn about the research being stored in rows of complex computers.

Coding logic can be obtained in so many fun ways, so we decided to play around with those fun ideas! Since learning coding isn’t limited to being on the computer, the girls wrote some offline sequences. They wrote programs for someone else to redraw a picture to see how it turned out and played team building games such as using code to get your team across this island. They tinkered with fun technologies such as Ozobots, Spheros, the Makey Makey, and Micro:bits. These activities gave the girls space to enhance skills in a different way and build sisterhood!

Last semester, three of the girls in our club were awarded for their outstanding essay submissions into the Girls Who Code Entrepreneurial Challenge hosted by The Utah STEM Foundation. That award money for our club was used to purchase the Ozobots shown in some of the photos below. These clever little bots that follow lines and obey color code combinations were a hit! A huge thank you to the STEM Action Center and Utah STEM Foundation for helping us bring in an awesome, interactive tool that beautifully blends art and programming.

Venus (above), Suhaani, Kylee, Kate, and Malisia (left) drawing pathways for the Ozobots to travel along and chunks of color codes for the pre-programmed robots to follow.

This Girls Who Code experience wouldn’t be the same without sisterhood. We saw friendships form and blossom through helping each other, discovering common interests, and laughing A LOT together. What makes this program so unique is the flexibility the girls have to make each project their own, while creating stronger bonds with peers. We can’t wait to have these relationships continue and welcome in new club members next semester!

If any of the awesome girls in your life are interested in joining this free coding program in the spring, please fill out this Girls Who Code at The Leonardo Spring 2020 Google Form. Our first sessions will begin Saturday, February 1st, with more detailed times coming soon.

 

Stay curious and creative,

Steph Benson

Youth Engagement Manager

Learn More about Girls Who Code at The Leonardo