Written by volunteer writer Alison Perch
The TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board consists of teenagers across the U.S. who share their expertise and recommendations with TechGirlz. They meet in person and virtually to exchange ideas and lead TechShopz in their hometowns. As a Teen Advisory Member, Paige Burns does all that and more. Through her volunteer work and engagement in extracurricular activities, Paige inspires the next generation of TechGirlz.
Paige’s tech journey began when her parents encouraged her to take a coding class in 8th grade. “We learned HTML, CSS, and made our own websites. I enjoyed the project-based learning and the creative aspects of the class,” Paige says.
Since then, Paige has taken Webmastering, AP Digital Art, AP Computer Science, and Data Structures classes. Through these courses, she has become adept at photo-editing and Java programming, and she’s honed her problem-solving skills.
“My interest in technology has grown over time as I’ve been exposed to more challenging problems and new aspects of technology,” Paige explains.
Paige first learned about TechGirlz as a youth representative at the Women In Tech Summit. After connecting with the TechGirlz leadership team, she applied for a position on the Teen Advisory Board and assisted with two Denver-based TechShopz before running her own at the Lafayette Public Library.
“At first, I was really nervous to run my own workshop with TechGirlz, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to explain the technology concepts as well as I should’ve. But what I learned was that, as I continue to teach these workshops, I will continue to learn more about technology. There have been some moments in my workshops where I finally understand a certain concept better after explaining it to the workshop participants,” Paige says.
In addition to volunteering with TechGirlz during the school year, Paige has run her own TechGirlz Arduino Programming Camp over the summer. She applied for a grant to fund the camp and secured the Innovation Center of St Vrain as a partner organization. Though it was a challenging process, Paige was ultimately selected as an Aspire IT leader and awarded a $2,000 grant from the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT).
Paige was responsible for every aspect of the camp, including marketing, building an implementation team, training teaching assistants, securing speakers, and developing curriculum (in collaboration with TechGirlz).
Thanks to Paige’s efforts, twenty campers learned how to assemble and code an Arduino robot. Speakers from NASA, Adams 12, and the Innovation Center also shared their expertise. The participants worked in teams to determine how their robots might solve a problem in their communities. Campers created slideshows and presented their ideas, which helped them develop team-building and public-speaking skills.
“By the end of the camp, I had a very good relationship with my main contact at the Innovation Center of St Vrain, and I stayed in contact with this center. Even though I am not a student of St Vrain, I found a way that I could be a part of some of their teams at the center, and I now participate on their NAO Robotics Team,” Paige says.
Paige participates in several other extracurricular activities, in addition to her role on the robotics team. She plays varsity tennis, coaches gymnastics, and snowboards. Paige also loves to travel and take photos whenever she can. Additionally, she’s president of her school’s Interact Club (service organization), and she’s involved in National Honor Society and Varsity Speech and Debate.
Outside of school, Paige is the public relations and events officer on the Broomfield FISH Youth Advisory Board. In this volunteer role, she has led community outreach efforts and used her digital design skills to enact social change.
Through these activities, Paige has learned the value of collaboration as well as the role technology plays in community engagement. Paige says she used to think technology was only about coding, though her classes and involvement with TechGirlz have broadened her perspective.
“I am supporting TechGirlz because their mission is to break the stigmas around technology so that more girls get involved in technology. I think that it is so important to educate girls about all the possibilities of technology, because I once had many misconceptions about technology that could’ve prevented me from doing all that I have done in the past years,” Paige explains.
Learn more about how high school students can get involved with TechGirlz!