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Local high school students teaching technology class to middle schoolers (Colorado)

Amy Bounds, a K-12 education writer for the Boulder Daily Camera and Longmont Times-Call, covered a story about the TechGirlz Summer Camp held in Colorado. This camp was led by a TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board member, Paige Burns. The article talks with Paige and the other high school volunteers that helped make this camp possible- peer to peer mentorship at its finest! The full article was originally published July 09, 2019 on the News/Education section of the Daily Camera.


LONGMONT, CO - JULY 9: Peak to Peak sixth grader Marielle Brooks, left, and Southern Hills Middle School sixth grader Madeleine Sieper work on a temperature sensor project the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Camp for Middle School Girls July 9, 2019 at the Innovation Center. (Photo by Lewis Geyer/Staff Photographer)

Paige Burns, an incoming senior at Lafayette’s Peak to Peak Charter School, enrolled reluctantly in an advanced placement computer science class last school year.

Though she loved digital photography, she said, she didn’t think she would like the technical side. To her surprise, she found she liked learning Java and spending time coding.

“I got really into technology,” she said.

This week, she’s sharing her passion with middle-school girls by leading a weeklong camp on building an Arduino-based robot at the St. Vrain Valley School District’s Innovation Center.

“I really want to increase awareness about tech and show girls it’s not all just coding,” she said. “There’s art, there’s engineering, there’s building.”

She said the opportunity to apply for a grant to teach a workshop came from winning a regional National Center for Women and Information Technology’s Aspirations in Computing Award.

After getting the grant, she reached out to Axel Reitzig, the robotics and computer science coordinator at the Innovation Center, to ask him to serve as a program partner. Reitzig agreed to serve as a mentor and helped her plan the class.

“We want to really encourage girls in technology,” Reitzig said.

Burns chose the TechGirlz curriculum — she’s taught other classes through TechGirlz — and recruited three more high school girls to help teach it. Her goals for the 19 participants from area middle schools include learning both Arduino fundamentals and problem solving skills.

She started with teaching the basics of programming circuits using a breadboard, then connecting it to an Aurdino board. They learned to program the circuits to make a noise, to light up different LED bulbs based on the temperature and to use a photo resistor as a light switch.

Once they master the basics, they’ll build obstacle-avoiding robots to send through a maze, presenting their work to their parents on Friday.