Girls Who Code, an organization that empowers women in STEM, has a newly founded chapter at Schoolcraft.
Heady Warden, who is responsible for community outreach as the director of strategic enrollment at the college, organized this initiative to introduce young girls to coding. Looking to increase foot traffic on campus in terms of recruitment, Warden saw Girls Who Code as an opportunity that aligned with the president’s initiative to make connections with students at an early level of K-12 while fulfilling MASCO’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiative. MASCO is able to fund the program adequately, and Schoolcraft has all the necessary facilities. The on-campus computing labs prevent the lack of technology from being an inhibitor, making the program accessible to all students.
Girls Who Code has recognized the decline of women in STEM, and particularly in computer science, and to combat this, they have enabled the creation of coding chapters across the country to get young girls interested in coding. With 50 percent of their participants coming from historically underrepresented and low-income households, the nonprofit organization is working to empower women from all backgrounds.
At Schoolcraft, the Girls Who Code club teaches 60 students, divided into a 3rd-5th grade group and a 6th-12th grade group. The classes meet every Saturday from 2-4 p.m. not only to learn about code, but also to learn about notable women in STEM. While the group is primarily girls, young boys are welcome to participate as well.
“We promote bravery, the sisterhood, the activism, we don’t just want them to get exposed to coding,” says Warden, “We want them to visualize themselves in this field if that’s what they want and to be successful at it too. To be those guiding pillars themselves.”
Students come from cities all-around Livonia, including Novi, Northville, Redford, Garden City and Detroit. They are at a variety of levels of experience, and many new students have joined throughout the season.
In the 3rd-5th grade group, students focus on an award-winning penguin book series in relation to code. In the 6th-12th grade group, students focus on website development and animation. Both groups start classes by watching a video of a woman in STEM provided by the Girls Who Code website. Following this, they discuss the video as well as their own experiences with coding. For the rest of class, the students learn a new coding topic pulled from the 120 hours of coding curriculum on the Girls Who Code website. They replicate the code as their mentor shows them how to apply it. The energetic and curious group of primarily girls creates a fun and engaging learning environment.
“Girls Who Code was a really amazing experience because I got to learn how to code with my friends,” says Ashely Yeung, a sophomore at Stevenson High School, “I loved how it didn’t feel like a class, but [like] a group of other girls learning and having fun together.”
The students are working to combine their passion for activism and their love of coding to create a final project that encapsulates all that they learned. They are currently contemplating creating a website in advocacy of animal rights or a website that shows the impact Girls Who Code had on them.
The chapter is also looking to create partnerships with the nonprofit organizations Girls on the Run, which uses running to empower young girls, and Roots and Shoots, which empowers young people to combat social and environmental issues.
The Girls Who Code Club meetings will start up again in January for a second season and are expected to have nearly 100 students between the two age groups.
For more information visit https://scf.schoolcraft.edu/engage-transform-inspire/girls-who-code/ or contact Heddy Worden at [email protected].