The early bird gets the worm, literally!

That’s what Danielle Southerland, a University of Pennsylvania technology professional, enjoyed most about the workshop she organized at the university using TechGirlz “You Can Code” TechShopz in a BoxTM. Girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 12 learned Blockly coding and maneuvered birds to get the worm in the tutorial! The workshop was held during Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day on April 28, 2016. The theme this year was “Spark Aha! Moments” – and Danielle shared her own Aha! moment. “For me it was the level of engagement… seeing great moments of understanding – using a Blockly coding game to make a bird catch a worm. When I see the lightbulb go off and see that they understand, that’s the Aha! moment.

The idea for the event came from the TechGirlz newsletter which suggested that companies use TechShopz in a BoxTM to run activities for Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Danielle responded to the newsletter and set aside a 3 ½ hour window to host a tech workshop with her colleagues in the Information Technology Services department. They prepared for 10 kids and were pleasantly surprised when 20 kids signed up in just one hour! The coding was only one part of the event – the kids got to tour the technology operations center and went home with goodie bags.

There were several key observations Danielle made along the way. “These kids are a lot smarter than us,” and feels as though next generation are particularly open to and adaptive to technology. Also, she shared that “kids were helping other kids.” This is key to team building and community support. Danielle, personally, finds great satisfaction in sharing her technical knowledge with others, especially young ones who absorb it so quickly – and even the elderly. She finds joy in being a go-to resource for her 86 year old aunt who is also quite familiar with technology.

As a network specialist for 16 years who started as an intern, Danielle continues to absorb new technology solutions, on-the-job training, and has a special interest in the latest in security. Looking back on her career, she said “I am amazed at the rapid movement of technology. Just think of how much technology and coding is in everything – even in our home appliances.” She recommends TechShopz in a BoxTM as a way for anyone who has anything to do with technology to engage kids at an early age.

After all, the early bird gets the worm!

Written by Denise Williams