On August 25, about 20 girls, in grades 4 through 8, filed into the briefing room upstairs at the Apple Store to learn the basics of HTML and CSS. Constance Ip, from New York Code + Design Academy (NYCDA), a coding school with locations in Philly and NYC, led the workshop.,/p>
Over the course of three hours, the girls learned how to write the code that forms the backbone of websites. They learned the language to use to add images and links to a webpage, how to change the color of the text and background, and how to adjust the size of photos and text on the page.
Constance used curriculum provided by TechGirlz’ TechShopz in a Box™ Program to guide the students step by step through the process of learning HTML and CSS. She prepared for the workshop by reviewing the material and by practicing her presentation the day before. The curriculum was familiar to her, since she taught the same workshop in Wayne, PA in July.
To participate in the workshop, the girls needed to have a laptop with Sublime text editor installed on it. They also used Dabblet, a web-based CSS and HTML “playground,” which allowed them to see the changes they made to their code in real time. Although many of the students had their own computer, the Apple store also generously provided a number of Macs for use during the workshop.
When asked how and why she got involved with the organization, Constance noted that she loves the idea of TechGirlz and the fact that the organization introduces girls to technology from a young age. Although she usually works with adults in her day to day role at NYCDA, she said that she finds it more rewarding to work with kids, as they tend to pick things up more quickly and there’s less resistance to the learning process. She also noted that NYCDA wants to reach out to and work with the tech community in Philly.
It wasn’t just Constance and a group of 20 students at the workshop. She had help from two TA’s, Annie and Karen. Annie is a high schooler got into coding on her own, took an online class at CodeAcademy, and who now wants to help other girls get into coding from a young age. The TA’s, along with Constance, gave personal attention to the students, answering their questions on an individual basis and helping them figure out the problem when their codes just weren’t working. At the end of the workshop, Constance noted how helpful it was to have the support of the two TA’s, due to the larger size of the class. She also noted that Dabblet was a particularly useful tool, since it let the girls see the results of their work right away.
While she did wish for more time to get more in depth with students or to cover more of the material, all in all, the workshop seemed to be a success. Plenty of the girls left excited to keep working on their websites at home.
Written by Amy Freeman.