By Sarah Daigle and Jennifer McCool
Take a minute and think back to your childhood, specifically the eighth grade. What kind of person were you? What did you think about? If you were like me, you thought about boys and teasing your bangs into a rat’s nest. You might have thought about more than that (hopefully) but were you thinking about your high school and college education and maybe even your future career? Doubtful.
That is a very awkward time in a person’s life. Any person’s life. But what if you were an eighth grade girl who really enjoyed technology? Excelled at a field, traditionally, made up of boys? Where is your outlet? Who do you talk to about things like that; where do you get reassurance that you can be a coder or engineer if that’s what you really want?
Luckily, the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas has a plan. A two-day conference held for 150 eighth grade girls, from all over Arkansas, aimed at exposing girls to all the facets of careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The girls who wish to attend this event apply by answering essay questions. One of the questions asks about the students’ short term and long term education goals. It may be an effort to apply but if chosen, these girls can learn from women with the same drive and interests. Women who can reassure them that it is okay to be interested, excel, and kick butt in these traditionally male-oriented fields. Smart, successful women who have made their way and are passing their experiences on.
Girls of Promise is meant to inspire young girls and help nurture this budding interest. This free conference has speakers, learning activities, and opportunity. These young ladies spend time building websites, applications, and going to museums – with other girls like them. A promise is made at the end of the conference by each attendee. In one year, those promises will be sent back to the girls as a reminder, a connection. You are smart; you are capable; you can do this.
This year, my session included some basic HTML and CSS to build web pages. We did it the ‘hard’ way with old fashioned text editor. When you progress to building larger sites, there are amazing tools to speed up the work. Think about using pencil and paper versus a calculator.
Using some elements of curriculum by Chad Williamson of Noble Impact, the girls shared some of their aspirations, accomplishments, and style.
Lastly, we gave them a taste of what coding means to the interactive world through the fun video-guided lessons with Star Wars’ Rey and Leia from Code.org, fun for all ages 6 to 106.
Take a few minutes and solve your first puzzle. You might just get addicted!
Know a girl who’d love this event? Subscribe to the email list, and we’ll notify you when the registration opens for the 2017 event.
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