In late August, I volunteered as a T.A. at the HTML/CSS workshop sponsored and put on by the New York Code + Design Academy and TechGirlz, and hosted by the Apple Store, and overall I had an amazing experience. Around twenty girls between the ages of ten and thirteen came to the workshop that day. The teacher, Constance Ip, was very friendly, open, and excellent at working with and helping the students and she was able to convey the information very clearly and comprehensively. The material itself was very well adapted to the girls and was at the perfect level for the workshop; not so difficult that the girls got frustrated or lost, but not so easy that they got bored. Overall, the girls were very engaged throughout the entire lesson.
I had a particularly fun time helping out the girls as the lesson progressed. It was really great to see their excitement when they finally got their code to work, and to see how their creative sides came out when they began to get the hang of the language enough to freely customize their web pages. I remember one girl in particular who wanted more than anything to have her web page be about baby snow leopards. She spent a good ten minutes looking up pictures of baby snow leopards to put in her webpage and exclaiming “Awwwwww! They’re soooooo cute!!!” at every other picture before finally selecting the ones she wanted. Other girls chose to focus more on things like changing font size and coordinating background and text colors. By the end, each girl came away with the ability to customize their own web page with colors, fonts, links, and pictures.
As someone who was exposed STEM things early on through programs like the ones TechGirlz runs, I know firsthand how important programs like these are in giving young girls an opportunity to explore the technology across many different fields. They give girls a chance to experiment with tech that they may not have even known existed before. These programs are helping girls to develop interests in technological fields at an early age. This allows younger girls to have more time to fully explore all areas of technology so that later, if they do choose a career in a technological field, they have a better understanding of, and more experience in, the field they’re going into. TechGirlz in particular cultivates interest in tech by encouraging the girls to incorporate their own creative side into the things they make.
I’m very glad that I was able to help motivate girls to explore coding, and technology as a whole.
Written by Annie Ghrist, TechGirlz TA and volunteer.