This blog post was written by AppUp Program Leader Mayesha Awal.
Serving as a Program Leader for AppUp through the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) AspireIT program was very rewarding. The biggest challenges that I had encountered were creating the instructional materials, and organizing the schedule and the logistics of the program. Before the program was launched, I had created powerpoint slides for each workshop, an agenda for AppUp, a demo application on various platforms, lesson plans and quizzes for the various topics, and a handbook that allowed the girls to work methodically. In the handbook, the lesson plans included a brief overview and demo of Scratch, introduction to Java, C++ and few other languages, and concepts of computer programming such as the agile and waterfall method. I worked on the handbook and used not only my prior knowledge on computer programming but also resources online. Additionally, I went on the websites and the software mentioned in the handbook such as C++ and Java in order to create demos to include throughout the handbook. Throughout the entire process, I worked very closely with Niharika Vattikonda, my Program Partner representative from Teens Transforming Technology, to make sure we could have the best program possible for our students.
The AppUp program partnered with Teens Transforming Technology was able to provide scholarships to several girls who participated in the program. The United Planning Organization also provided scholarships to all of the girls of Hendley Elementary School. The girls enjoyed giving presentations about how the programs that they had created were related to social justice and environmental issues. Hence, I believe that when girls were able to connect computer science, programming, coding, and application development with real-life situations, issues, and scenarios. When the girls realized that their ideas for the mobile applications could help resolve real-world issues, they were more willing and motivated to learn. Some of the ideas included creating applications such as providing food for the homeless, monitoring litter internationally, and reducing global warming by monitoring the percentages of greenhouse gases live and posting suggestions of how to reduce the gases in the air that are adversely affecting the environment.
Because the girls were so interested in developing their ideas, I worked with Niharika to launch the AppUp Mentorship program, through which our students are able to connect with experienced mentors to develop their mobile applications. AppUp will connect the mentors and mentees with resources every month and have small video demos to demonstrate quick tips for mobile application development. During the summer, the girls will showcase their mobile application in a web based competition where they will present their application and have a poster presentation. The judges for the competition will include technology professionals and will decide on the winner. I am excited to see the final products that the girls create, and I hope that the girls are able to not only learn while coding but also have a great time during the process!