Last summer, Sara Syed, a sophomore at the Baldwin School, ran a one-week coding camp for middle-school-aged girls at the Overbrook Educational Center in West Philadelphia. She ran the camp alongside of her sister, Jasmine, who’s recently graduated and now attends Duke University.
The sisters won a grant from the National Center for Women in Technology to run the camp, which was free for the students. Over the course of the week, the Sara and Jasmine taught the girls Scratch, a visual programming language. By the end of the camp, the girls were able to program two games, one of which they created completely on their own.
The camp was a success, the girls who attended it and Sara wished it would continue on. Luckily, Sara applied for and won a grant that will allow her to do just that.
Thanks to a Summer of Creativity grant from Youth Service America, she’ll be returning to Overbrook Educational Center this school year, to lead a series of workshops with the girls who attended the summer camp. Since her sister is off to college, Sara has recruited a few fellow students from the Baldwin School to help her teach the workshops.
Although it’s still in the planning stages, she expects to hold around four workshops this school year, on weekends. She’s also in the midst of planning a field trip for herself and the students who sign up for the workshops. The details aren’t finalized yet, but she’s looking into taking the girls to the Drexel University Excite Center.
During the workshops, she plans on picking up where the girls left off at the end of the coding camp. She noted that one of the challenges of the camp was the limited timeframe and working with a range of ages (students were in grades 6 through 9). She’s hoping to be able to base the instruction in the workshops on how quickly the students pick up what’s being taught.
The workshops at Overbrook Educational Center aren’t the only thing on Sara’s calendar for the academic year. She’ll also be running a Python workshop at the Baldwin School in November for middle school girls.
When asked about her favorite coding language, Sara said that while she still has a lot to learn, she’s really into Python right now and that she’s amazed at what she’s been able to make with it. She finds herself amazed at how much effort is needed just to make a simple phone app.
Along with working with TechGirlz and running workshops to get other girls excited about coding and technology, Sara hopes to participate in a hackathon, at some point in the near future. She thinks it would be really fun and hopes to get to do one either this coming year or by the time she graduates from high school.