Last Saturday an idea I’ve been wanting to do for a while finally came to fruition. I was able to pair up the resources around me and host a coding event for girls in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah campus called Let U Girls Code. I couldn’t have done this without Tyra at Oracle Academy and Laurie with the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business. This event was very successful and there’s plans for Oracle Academy to use this framework as part of their #CSforAll initiative to take events like this around the nation!

We asked for a $10 registration fee to confirm a girl’s spot in the event. We were able to collect over $800 to be donated to the National Center for Women & IT’s Aspirations in Computing scholarship program!

Raise your hands if you like computers!

We began the morning on Saturday welcoming the 100 girls in grades 7th through 12th and talking about why tech jobs are so amazing and how they have the skills to be successful as a programmer. Professor Vandana Ramachandran got the girls excited to start coding with her address to the girls.

 

I led a group of 60 girls in an introductory class where they learned Scratch while another group of intermediate students learned Alice. In the Scratch lesson, we talked about how we need to translate what we are thinking into words that make sense to a computer so that it can do what we want. They then built an application with a color-changing butterfly and another app with an animated break dancer. Next they learned about control statements such as IF — THEN and they built a Pong game. We finished up the morning coding a Catch the Dropping Ball game.

Working on the Catch the Dropping Ball game

After lunch the girls were given a challenge to work on in teams. Their challenge was to create a game to either teach kids to eat healthy or to count to 20. I loved watching the girls’ creativity be unleashed in the 2 hours we gave them to write these games! They were asking good questions about how logic would work to do certain things but most of all, they clicked around and figured things out. I was impressed with their ability to learn quickly.

Teamwork as they build a counting game

It was tough to judge all of the great games that were built but in the end we chose 3 winning teams based on Most Advanced Code, Most Creativity, and Best Teamwork. I took videos of a few of the games. Check them out at the bottom of this post and hopefully you’ll be impressed also!

To wrap up I asked the girls how many of them would go home and make more games. At least half of the room’s hands shot up and they started jumping up and down excitedly. They were so motivated to continue learning and playing. I knew we were successful at this point. I’ll never know the impact 10 years down the road to know if any of these girls end up as coders but I can only hope that we influenced at least one girl to consider programming as a career that she could be successful in.

 

Thanks to Oracle Academy and the University of Utah for your sponsorship of this great event!

CHECK OUT SOME VIDEOS OF THE GAMES

Group 1 Counting Game Video

Group 2 Counting Game Video

Group 3 Healthy Eating Video

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