Four teens are working together to design and code a computer game. Their goal is to have a working prototype within 24 hours. At the moment they have a sketched-in background that depicts a classroom with a rocket ship that shoots targets. The game’s theme is dealing with the stress that comes with being a high-achieving high school teen. One of the primary targets (and later the Boss Battle) is the SAT exam. The teens are organized, with three coding and the other coloring-in the backdrop that’s been designed for the game. Their names are Andrea Arce, Pooja Chivukula, Jaylen Li, and Madeline Huang and they are competing in the 24 hour #CodeDayDallas Saturday, November 12 at The Grove Dallas.
Pooja crackles with excitement as she talks about programming and computer science. She became interested in coding when her dad took her to a camp when she was in middle school. Pooja and her friends (fellow coders) are all in AP computer science at Coppell High School. They’re participating in #CodeDay, a nationwide event, for the opportunity to work on a fun project they get to create from design to completion. All four girls enjoy expanding their experience beyond school, and thanks to #CodeDay they’ve all expanded their creativity. Jaylen enjoys participating in competitions and recently competed in one that allowed her to solve a problem from start-to-finish: Figuring out the approach, working with users, customizing a solution gives “real-world experience that is coding as well understanding the user-experience and design”.
Smart girls, indeed. They also went on to WIN the competition.
The team are all in AP computer science. They are incredibly organized, efficient, and fun. They’re regular teens who happen to love creating things with technology. Their organizational skills were on-point, with lead artist Madeline busy coloring in the gorgeous backdrop and other elements of the game while Andrea, Jaylen and Pooja tackled the programming. Madeline is interested in a future career where she can integrate her love of art and design with her love of technology.
Readers – what wisdom-of-the-crowd suggestions do you have for Madeline to marry her love of art and tech? Please comment on this blog post and answers will be curated and sent. Teens inhabit a different social media space – let’s give them an early intro to LinkedIn’s power of connecting.
I REALIZED that CodeDayDallas was an opportunity to ask the generation not-yet in the workforce: Why aren’t there more girls in technology? What is it like to be a girl in tech, or boy working with them?
Andrea was hesitant about joining computer science freshman year and took debate instead. She soon switched to computer science and said it was “the best decision, ever”, saying “we get to solve problems, everyone is helpful and collaborates on those problems. Assignments, labs are fun. There’s lots of support.” Andrea is Hispanic, and not only are there few females but no Hispanics in computer science. It can be intimidating for many, not just for girls.
Trevor Nguyen is active his school’s (McKinney Boyd High) Computer Science Association and they do recruit/outreach from the entire student population. Many say they are interested but intimidated by students who have been doing it (coding) longer. Trevor also brought up a great point: Most of the CS students want to participate in competitions but do not have access to transportation for competitions as athletics and band do. (Grassroots movement, anyone?)
Some of the teens mentioned that “girls sometimes aren’t confident” when it comes to joining computer science. It’s a natural outcome: Most of us are hesitant to join a space where we are an outlier.
All of the girls love the experience and say that everyone is supportive but in general, the boys do not approach the girls.
Bottom line: Encourage kids, boys and girls, to get involved in tech. Every company uses technology in some way, so in a sense all companies are tech companies. Code camps are a great way to create, design, and explore.