Wendy Nield, the CEO of Adwire and accomplished graphic designer and mother of 2 daughters, wanted to start a girls coding club for 3rd and 4th graders so her youngest daughter could get a positive hands on experience in computing as her older daughter did when I ran a similar club. Wendy knew that an encouraging experience like a coding club builds confidence and is one of the most influential factors in girls’ decisions to pursue computing education and careers as noted in NCWIT Girls in IT: The Facts.
Wendy was not afraid of taking a risk and leading the club on her own. She just wanted some advice about how to begin. I gave her a few ideas including Google’s CS First which I think is a robust option with the easiest execution. CS First uses Scratch, a free online programming environment that helps “young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively” as they code interactive stories, games, and animations.
I described the different theme options and showed her the free kit that comes with the online easy-to-follow curriculum. Wendy and her daughter did their research and decided that CS First Friends (Level of Difficulty: Moderate) would be the way to go and immediately sent out invites to 8 girls to come over a week later and get started. There was 100% interest. It was decided that since two of the older sisters had already been in a coding club that they would be the gurus in training — also known as assistants.
So now there is a regular club at Wendy’s house every other Sunday. The girls bring their school laptops — or borrow from parents. The coding club was originally two hours, but due to excitement it is now two and a half hours. The club has been branded G_R_L Made and it is awesome!
Start your own coding club or suggest one at your school: CS First
Find other ideas in NCWIT’s Enrich PK-8 Computing Education to connect students to learning environments that emphasize hands-on experience with technology.
Next Blog: The First Meeting
About Leslie Aaronson: I am a former computer science teacher. I taught for 13 years in LAUSD and received the LAUSD Teacher of the Year award for 2011-2012. I started a Girls Coding Club at Foshay Learning Center in 2015 with high school students. This lead to the high school girls starting clubs for local middle school girls and for my daughter and her elementary school friends. These clubs lasted until 2017. I moved to become the Strategic Director for K12 Initiatives at the NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology) and I am the project manager for Girls Build LA. With a full plate I don’t have time to manage my own clubs.