Girls Who Code

Nassau County Girl Scouts put their computer skills to work at the Hour of Code™ hosted by the Department of Computer Science. 

“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.

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