TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board Member and Alumna Sara Syed Runs Signature Coding Camp for Third Consecutive Year

This year, Sara (right) was assisted by Pallavi Sreedhar (left), a Baldwin alumna and a rising freshman at Columbia University.
This year, Sara (right) was assisted by Pallavi Sreedhar (left), a Baldwin alumna and a rising freshman at Columbia University.

The all-day G.E.T. Coding (Girls Exploring Technology & Coding) was held this year from August 21 – 23, 2017 at Overbrook Educational Center (OEC). This camp was held for the 3rd consecutive year and was formed by the continuing partnership between Sara Syed (a rising senior at the Baldwin School, Bryn Mawr) and OEC. The Overbrook Educational Center is a Title I school that is in need of Computer Science Curriculum. The camp offers 20 middle school girls from OEC free exposure to different technology and basics of coding. The camp was developed by Sara, a TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board member and alumna who organizes new curriculum each year for the camp.

The camp has been made possible every year through a grant that Sara wins from the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s AspireIT outreach program. NCWIT AspireIT is a component of NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC), a national talent development initiative for young women in computing, from kindergarten through graduate school.

Learning about Makey MakeyThis year the girls were exposed to a variety of technology platforms such as Makey Makey and Scratch. They also learned about Virtual Reality by using and making simple apps for Google Cardboard, and they created a website using HTML and CSS. Techgirlz’s TechShopz in a Box workshop plans were incorporated throughout the camp’s course schedule. The girls also learned about career opportunities in the computer science field from women guest speakers who are IT Professionals. The camp culminated on the final day with a parent showcase where the girls presented what they had learned to their parents, family, and friends.

Meredith Foote, the Principal of OEC, offered continued praise for the camp and partnership saying,

“The G.E.T Coding Camp for girls has been an incredible opportunity for students at OEC. For the past three summers, students have had the unique experience of being taught by Sara Syed from Baldwin and seeing a young high school student as their teacher has been both empowering and inspiring.

The coding camp provides a special place for girls to envision their future careers in the tech world among their female peers. The opportunities and learning experiences provided through coding gave the students at OEC a glimpse into a potential career path. As a Title I school with 100% students of color in West Philadelphia, any chance to expose students to innovation and technology is always welcome. Providing our girls with a free camp that is also enjoyable and informative is the best partnership we could ask for. Our deep thanks extend to Sara Syed and NCWIT for making this incredible camp happen year after year for our girls. Thank you!”

A student projectSara Syed, the Program Leader, was inspired to create this camp to increase the diversity in the technology field and diffuse the gender gap. Through her work with TechGirlz, she gained the confidence to initially develop and execute the camp.

“Having first attended TechGirlz’s camp and workshops in middle school, and then forming a close partnership with TechGirlz by teaching workshops, developing lesson plans, and being a camp counselor for them gave me the confidence and prepared me to first take on this challenge when I was a high school freshman”, said Sara.

Through the continued partnership with OEC, Sara has gotten back more than she imagined when she started the outreach effort.

“I love the partnership I have formed with OEC”, continued Sara. “Seeing some of the same girls return each year for camp makes me realize the impact this camp has had on them. I value the continued relationships I have formed and getting to see the girls skills grow throughout the years. Sometimes the girls will reach out to me during the school year with questions. A key part of my curriculum is making sure the girls will be able to have continued access to practice their skills throughout the year, so I often try to teach coding via free online websites, or this year each girls was able to keep their very own Google Cardboard Kits. Even though planning, and executing the camp is hard work, I am excited to come up with a different curriculum and teach each year. It is definitely one of the highlights of my summer”.

TechShopz students

Read Sara’s recent interview with MAINLINE Media News, as she was named Main Line Student of the Week! She talks all about her continued journey in Tech, TechGirlz, school, and more.