2016 Techie Camp: Girl Power

Last week was Computer Science Education (CSEd) Week, and thousands of students across the country engaged in various coding activities. TECH CORPS, in partnership with the Teaching & Learning Collaborative, launched the #CutOut4CS project with a set of lessons designed specifically for 3rd and 4th grade teachers.  Using a cookie design scenario and Scratch, the #CutOut4CS lessons uniquely fused mathematics and Computer Science. Through this project, we impacted 4,500 students in 13 states and 2 countries!

With the nationwide #CSForAll initiative, it is evident that the need for computational thinking and an understanding of computer science is imperative for all students across the country from kindergarten through high school, regardless of their socioeconomic status, gender or ethnicity. Unfortunately, researcher continues to show that girls/women and ethnic minorities remain underrepresented in the field of computer science and information technology.

Thankfully, there are a myriad of organizations focused on creating a paradigm shift that empowers and moves more girls from being just users of technology into the role of designers and creators with technology. TECH CORPS is proud to be one of those organizations, and with continued support from The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio over the past four years, 170 elementary and middle school girls have participated in Techie Camp: Girl Power (TCGP). TCGP is a full-day, week-long summer program designed to engage elementary and middle school girls in hands-on, technology and computer science activities. The girls take a “deep dive” into subject matter focused on Programming, Robotics or App Development and emerge with knowledge, concepts and skills that are useful in today’s classroom and tomorrow’s workplace.

This summer, 20 elementary and 21 middle school girls dove head first into App Development and Robotics, respectively, and discovered their inner computer scientist. Mentored by female engineering students from The Ohio State University Women in Engineering Department, the middle school girls created their own Android apps using App Inventor, a platform developed by the MIT Media Lab, and the elementary school girls built and programmed various robots using Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits. Over the course of the week, the girls worked individually and collectively to design a project to present on the last day of each camp. The girls presented their projects to their peers and parents.

In addition to the technical aspects of Techie Camp: Girl Power, the girls also participated in activities designed to improve their self-concept, self-esteem and dispel the myth that only boys/men are engaged and successful in computing related educational and career pathways.

We are always elated to receive comments like the following from our Techie Camp: Girl Power parents as it truly affirms what TECH CORPS is trying to accomplish with our programs:

“My daughter talked about how much she enjoyed Techie Camp and how much she learned. She has been showing me what she learned and giving me lessons as we create a project together at home. She also talked about helping others in the class, so this was also a great leadership opportunity for her. Thank you for such a positive experience!”

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Written by Carla Easley, Director of Operations TECH Corps