Recently, through the BGCA Education Learning Community, we were introduced to Kelley Smith, Program Director at the Boys and Girls Club of Fauquier in Warrenton, Virginia. We were immediately struck by her enthusiasm for coding! We were curious to learn about how she’s been able to successfully establish a coding program at her Club (especially one that appeals to girls). Read on to learn how she did it and what her members LOVE about it!
What made you interested in setting up a coding program?
Last summer, a Senior Consultant at Microsoft came to the Club to take our members on a “virtual field trip” where they got to swim with sharks, fly on a hang glider, surf, and snow ski, and they loved it! The Microsoft representative also gave a presentation about the lack of women in the tech world and shared videos and facts about untold women who invented and did amazing things.
Because of the many grant opportunities available for STEAM programming, we have placed a strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math experiences at our Club. Our strong relationship with 4H and their Maker-Space programs including Makey-Makey and Scratch laid the initial foundation for our foray into coding.
What made you decide to implement the Girls Who Code program?
Microsoft recommended several coding programs and I knew right away that the unique programming of Girls Who Code (GWC) would engage our (already amazing) young ladies. Many are not gamers and bore quickly when playing video games. GWC breaks the stereotype that coding is only for those who game. The GWC curriculum includes “Women in Tech” lessons that solidify the message that coding is not just for gamers. Our members were amazed to learn that coding is used by dancers on Broadway, fashionistas, and Youtubers. This discovery led to a discussion about what the girls thought coding was and how it applies to them and their passions.
What do you hope youth gain from participating in Girls Who Code?
My biggest hope is that they gain confidence from Girls Who Code! I see so many young girls lack confidence and self-worth. Coding enhances problem-solving skills and gives girls the confidence to know they can tackle any challenge that comes their way. GWC also reinforces that coding is a useful and applicable skill for all industries and careers.
What do youth say about the program? What aspects have they really enjoyed?
Want to get your youth hooked on Computer Science but don’t know where to start? Check out BGCA’s MyFuture for some great activities for all levels, from introductory tutorials with Hour of Code to more advanced app development with App Lab. And for more projects and updates from the girls of BGC Fauquier, visit their website at https://bgcgirlswhocode.weebly.com/!
Boys & Girls Club staff can find out more about our new Learning Communities, which include all Core Program Areas plus special topics in youth development, at BGCA.net.
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