This blog post was written by Program Coordinator Alianza Clyne.
I recently had the opportunity to host an Hour of Code session at my school. It was truly a phenomenal experience that made me view teaching other students how to code in a different light. Nevertheless, as with everything, this session and my reason for hosting it has a back story. It all started with a life-changing experience at Girls Who Code last summer.
Although I never envisioned myself enjoying coding (yet alone teaching it), I unexpectedly came to view coding in a positive lens after attending the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. For seven weeks last summer, I had the opportunity to not only surround myself with a community of fellow girls who, like me, were trying to sway through the complexities that surround computer science but to also create projects that I never knew I could be capable of creating. Since attending this program, I have not only come to view coding through a different lens, but a fire has ignited within my soul to ensure that more girls (particularly those who are racially underrepresented in tech) get to experience the power of code.
MAKING A CHANGE
This led me to launch Hour of Code (HOC) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Week initiatives at my school, Georgia Connections Academy. As a virtual student, running such an initiative online was challenging, but it was also very rewarding because I had the opportunity to teach fellow students from all over Georgia to code. The road to launching these initiatives began in November of 2016 when I pitched them to our school’s administration. After they were approved, I started planning them out. Taking place March 27-31, each day of STEAM Week was used to honor some part of STEAM. Members of my school’s Student Council, National Math Honors Society, and National Art Honors Society all worked together to craft PowerPoints that highlighted either science, technology, engineering, the arts, or math that would be sent out to the entire student body via email. The purpose of these PowerPoints was to not only emphasize that STEM can be fun, but it can also be combined with the arts. By intertwining STEM with the arts, I hope to be able to inspire other young women to view STEM in a different light and realize that they can pursue both fields. Monday was used to honor science (I had the pleasure of creating this PowerPoint), Tuesday honored technology, Wednesday highlighted engineering, Thursday highlighted the arts, and Friday highlighted math. Along with the PowerPoints that were sent out each day, we also included a link to an interactive tutorial from the Hour of Code website .
To top it all off, on April 13th, I hosted an Hour of Code session via Adobe Connect (an online conferencing room). To start, I showed the attendees two videos. The first video featured leaders in tech and celebrities talking about the importance of coding and how it can change the world.
Another video featured Maddy Maxey discussing the ways that fashion can be combined with coding. By showing these videos, I wanted to show students that coding is not just a bunch of algorithms--it can truly be fun. I also wanted to emphasize that coding can be combined with almost any field that they are passionate about. Luckily, my mission worked since many students commented about how they were amazed by the fact that coding can be combined with so many fields. I then showcased a presentation created by Teens Transforming Technology’s founder, Niharika Vattikonda. In the presentation, she discussed why she became passionate about tech and gave tips to our attendees about how they too can get involved in tech. Not only was I inspired by her accomplishments in tech, but many students at the session felt motivated, too.
Following this, I directed attendees to a website with a Hour of Code tutorial called Programming with Carla. This interactive tutorial teaches students how to code a chatbot named Carla. Before having them start the tutorial, I sent them to a tutorial that I made myself where I explain what variables and conditionals are. I also walked them through each step of the chatbot tutorial. By the end of the session, many of the attendees were able to finish coding their chatbot and many mentioned that the session made them more interested in learning to code.
Hosting this session truly made me realize how much I loved teaching other students how to code. Seeing my fellow classmates get excited about figuring out how to use variables and conditionals truly made me realize that teaching isn’t just about bestowing knowledge onto others, but it’s also about learning about your own self and your passions. In the future, I hope to lead more of these initiatives both online and within my community.