Almost a year ago, I had just wrapped our final workshop (A Star Wars Galaxy of Code) for the summer at Herndon Fortnightly Library, the site of our original summer and web development programs. In the weeks before, we coded with Anna and Elsa from Disney and explored MIT AppInventor in 3, 2, 1, App That! with dozens of students from the D.C. metro area. In the year since, we’ve reached a few hundred students in the D.C. area and in online education, most of whom are from a low-income background or are members of an underrepresented group in technology. But beyond the numbers and statistics, here are just a few the future coders we reached:
A brother and sister who are both homeschooled by their dad — we’ve helped them integrate computer science into their curriculum so that they can embed computer science into everything they do and truly embrace the power of computing as an interdisciplinary tool,
And most recently, ten girls from an elementary school in D.C. where almost all of the students are on free and reduced-price lunch — they’ve been able to explore computer science through a fully-funded app development camp on a college campus, mentored by students who they can relate to.
From our original camps at Herndon Fortnightly, we’ve been able to reach so many more students from coast to coast — this January, in fact, we’ll be sponsoring PixelHacks II, the second iteration of the Bay Area’s original hackathon for high school girls. And our focus, as with all of our programs, has been to tap into the community network and find the students who need our programs the most. By working with members of our team from Georgia to New York to California, we’ve seen the importance of creating flexible curricula and empowering our program coordinators develop their own initiatives that are uniquely poised to address the issues within their own communities.
So, in honor of a year of inspiring students to see the magic that a single line of code can have, Teens Transforming Technology is launching our new CS Chicas mentorship program — high school girls (anyone 8th grade and above is eligible to apply) selected for this program will have the unique opportunity to develop their own initiatives (hackathons, workshops, after-school programs, or anything they choose!) to expand access to computer science within their communities while being mentored directly by our team. We’ll work directly with students to provide logistical and financial support for initiatives by harnessing our network of sponsors and team members who currently coordinate logistics for our programs. Our hope is that by providing these resources, student leaders can embrace curriculum development and build their team management skills through the implementation of their initiatives. When I first founded Teens Transforming Technology, I had no idea where to start, and over the past year, it’s become a learning process, and I’m eager to share that knowledge and guidance with the social entrepreneurs of tomorrow.