“Middle school is an ideal time to expose girls to computer science since they are starting to make decisions regarding future careers,” said Assistant Professor of Computer Science Angeliki Zavou, who ran the event. “Giving them exposure to coding early on not only helps to build their confidence by improving their technical skills but it also makes STEM career paths more approachable to an entire new generation of talented young women.”
The Hour of Code challenged a group of approximately 25 middle school girls to solve 20 coding puzzles using Blockly– a visual programming system that allows the user to drag and drop blocks that snap together. Each block represented one line of code. The goal was to arrange blocks together that would instruct characters such as zombies and Star Wars characters to move through a maze. Each level got a little more challenging with more complicated combinations of instructions.
The event was held in celebration of Computer Science Education Week (December 3 – 9) and designed to teach young girls the basics of computer science and introduce them to opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
“I think this coding lesson was very cool,” said Charisse Cueto a sixth grader from Lynbrook North Middle School. “It’s beneficial to help us learn how to code computers in the future.”
After the students successfully completed all 20 puzzles, computer science major Danny Pires ’21 introduced the girls to Python, a programming language used to develop websites and web applications.
“I was really surprised not only at how quickly the girls were able to solve the coding challenges, but how they were always engaged and ready for the next challenge,” Pires said. “While I think some of them might have found the Python code to be a little intimidating, I am sure they were also excited that one day (maybe soon!) they would be able to write that same program.”
“I hope this experience taught them that anyone can code,” Pires added. “I believe we need a stronger female representation in the field and introducing them to it at a young age is a great way to start.”
The Hour of Code, is a global movement organized by the nonprofit Code.org and was created to help teach students critical skills for 21st-century success.