Celebrating 10,000 Girlz the Best Way Possible: Through TechShopz

Written by volunteer Emily Supil

This March, TechGirlz celebrated the milestone of teaching to 10,000 girls. Along with the announcement, TechGirlz ran 10 TechShopz across the country. I had the pleasure of participating in one of the workshops and attending the 10,000 Girlz Celebration and Volunteer Appreciation Party at Saxby’s Headquarters in Philadelphia.

Days leading up to the 10,000 girls workshop event, TechGirlz posted daily on Instagram reasons why girls should be in tech by smashing myths and stereotypes from the past decades. These posts resonated with my experiences, so by the time the Saturday event came around, I was thrilled to be one of the volunteers assisting in the ‘Make an Animated Bracelet with Micro:bit’ TechShop in Philadelphia. The workshop was led by volunteer Kelsey Huse (pictured above: middle). Both Amber Burgess and I assisted (pictured above: Amber, left and Emily, right). Early Saturday morning, fourteen middle school girls walked in eager and ready to learn about technology!

The first half of the workshop involved the girls familiarizing themselves with Micro:bit and coding it using Makecode.com, a javascript block based editor. The girls learned how to code words and images on the LED panel, change the display when moving and shaking the hardware, and send messages to each other through radio. They quickly grasped computer science concepts like loops and variables and enthusiastically accepted challenges to update their code if it did not work the first time around. One student said she liked using code to make her bracelet do what she wanted. The girls even collaborated and helped each other out when they had questions.

Girls check out MicrobitOne of my favorite parts of the day was when all the Celebration TechShopz held that day connected virtually via Google Hangouts. The girls in our room lit up with excitement when they saw other girls around the country learning tech, just like them. They clapped and waved TechGirlz signs at every location. The livestream also meant that it was raffle time! Each attendee nationwide was put into a raffle including prizes donated by Princess Awesome, JoyLabz, Newark element14, DevOps Philadelphia, and The Franklin Institute. The girls cheered each other on when winners’ names and cities were announced.

After building their technical skills, the girls started their own creative projects and made colorful duct tape bracelets to attach their Micro:bits to. At this point, the girls were energetically sharing their code creations with each other and to the volunteers having their own Micro:bit training in the next room. The girls were laughing and forming friendships with each other as they made their bracelets. A student survey justified the atmosphere felt by stating, “The environment of TechGirlz isn’t bias and is very safe and comfortable to learn in.” Isn’t that what it’s all about? It was incredible to see their zeal for the technology and growth in confidence with the Micro:bit. The celebration was even more special when the girls found out that they were able to take their bracelet home. As the workshop wrapped up, an attendee shared, “I liked that we got to take home a Micro:bit and program one ourselves! It was so cool to see our creative project on something real to show everyone!”

10,000 TechGirlz Celebration Party:

To commemorate teaching 10,000 girls about technology and innovation, following the Mirco:bit TechShop, TechGirlz held a party at Saxby’s, who generously donated their space. Volunteers, parents, and community members came to support and celebrate. NBC Philadelphia was on site filming the festivities. Even Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia attended the event!

Tracey checks out the TechGirlz merch
Founder, Tracey Welson-Rossman spoke about the TechGirlz organization and the impact of reaching 10,000 girls through technology workshops. She said a few words with Mayor Kenney speaking to the importance of diversity in tech and thanked the volunteers and organization sponsors: Chariot Solutions, Benjamin’s Desk, Core Innovation Capital, Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners, Slice Communications, TMNA Services, and Bentley Systems. Hearing these speeches and seeing the support for TechGirlz and their vision, I can’t help but be excited for the increase in tech opportunities for middle school girls and for the culture of the industry to be more inclusive in the future.

The celebration quickly moved to a kickoff with Tracey announcing the next TechGirlz goal of reaching 20,000 girls by 2020 – doubling their number of girls in the next two years by expanding to new cities and offering even more TechShopz. To champion this goal, the organization also launched a $1 million capital campaign to continue their mission to “inspire middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers.” I ended the day knowing that my volunteering had made a difference and I am motivated to keep participating in this mission. Please join me and help us reach our goal!

Find out how you can help!