Written by Alex Nelson (Class of 2012), Summer Intern

Have you ever programmed a robot? Last week at the St. Margaret’s Summer Coding Camp, girls learned to do this, and so much more.  In collaboration with Science Venture and Girls Learning Code, the CodeMakers CoderGirl camp brings girls face-to-face with technology and computers in an interactive and hands-on way. Computer Science is a bourgeoning field in the technological world we live in today, and we need to encourage female involvement and participation. STEM fields as a whole need to capture the attention of this generation, and encouraging girls to explore the sciences from a young age is the best way to achieve this. Watching the girls program their robots to run a course down a hallway seemed so exciting; I definitely wanted to join in. The eagerness and camaraderie was palpable, as the girls cheered and high fived when they figured out the right commands to steer their robots along the five-metre course.

The brainstorming and collaboration was constant, and even though teams were competing against each other to win the “race”, the girls would stop what they were doing to help out another camper. The challenges were complex, and the girls triumphed through collaborative support and engagement. I asked them if they had ever worked with robots before, and most girls said no. They did, however, enthusiastically recommend that other girls in the future attend the coding camp. They said that programming robots was “pretty awesome”, but that every day of the camp was filled with games, adventures, and learning. Every camper I spoke to said they were more passionate about science after taking part in the camp, and all said that experiential learning was their favourite way to approach sometimes intimidating fields like math, science or engineering.

A camp devoted to STEM fields brings new knowledge about computers and technology to girls in a fun and engaging way. Not only was this a fabulous learning opportunity for all involved, but the camp also strengthens confidence, curiosity, drive, and community-mindedness in participants. The girls-only environment allows campers to explore and make mistakes in a risk-free environment.

One of the key aspects of the camp is that girls produce an app to publish online at the end of the session. This impressive and tangible use of code language is just another way the CoderGirl camp is introducing tech skills to a generation of girls who need to harness and understand computers in a more intimate way than those before them.

The feedback I heard was all very positive, and the future of the CoderGirl camp looks promising. As it is, the camp certainly left an impact on the campers over the last two weeks; “I’m really excited about this stuff, I’m going to know everything about computers”.

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