“I liked doing the binary code games and making my name in computer code. I want to fix computers when I grow up.”Caroline, age 8
EXPLORING COMPUTER SCIENCE–both on screens and “unplugged”
CSUnplugged — The site for learning to code and program without computers (Elementary, Middle, High)
Microprocessor Fun –“programming” your friends (Elementary, Middle)
Computer Science 4 Fun — a very cool British site that explores all facets of Computer Science (Elementary, Middle, High)
SketchUp — design your own own world in 3-D. Online or download versions available for free (Elementary, Middle, High)
Code.org — Teach yourself to program in one hour! Or, learn enough to develop a career path. (Elementary, Middle, High)
Watch as GEMS members program Finch Robots
CS is Fun-– a compilation of fun games and activities (Elementary, Middle, High)
Beanz — a Magazine for Kids, Code and Computer Science — many projects for clubs and girls (Elementary, Middle)
Build a photon game with Quantum (Elementary, Middle, High)
PEOPLE WHO BUILD TECHNOLOGY SHOULD REPRESENT THE PEOPLE WHO USE IT
Although women today comprise half the world’s population and more than half of the U.S. professional workforce, they play only a small role in inventing the technology of tomorrow. The lack of girls and women in computing and technology represents a failure to capitalize on the benefits of diverse perspectives: in a world dependent on innovation, it can bring the best and broadest problem-solvers to the table; and at a time when technology drives economic growth, it can yield a larger and more competitive workforce.
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that IT will be one of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy, adding nearly 1.4 million job openings by 2018. Over two-thirds of these jobs could go unfilled due to the insufficient pool of college graduates with computing-related degrees. Women represent a vastly untapped talent pool.
- Groups with greater diversity solve complex problems better and faster than do homogenous groups, and the presence of women in a group is more likely to increase the collective intelligence (problem-solving ability, creativity) of the group.
- Companies with the highest representation of women in their management teams have a 34% higher return on investment than did those with few or no women.
The GEMS clubs are members of the NCWIT K-12 Alliance, working with organizations all over the world to promote girls and women in information technology.
GEMS is a partner for NCWIT’s K-12 Aspire IT Program and runs summer programming camps.
High school girls:
If you have participated in Computer Science/Information Technology classes, robotics, or other computer science projects, apply for the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award.
This will open multiple exciting possibilities for your future in computer science.
For the adventurous!
Build projects and program your own pocket-sized computer using a Raspberry Pi or similar unit.
Don’t let the size or the new electronics intimidate you. Just plug in a keyboard, monitor and mouse, and you are on your way to programming your life.
Raspberry Pi resources — projects, support and fun (Elementary, Middle, High)
Learning with the Raspberry Pi –many fun projects to do with your Raspberry Pi (Elementary, Middle, High)
Coder Dojo Tutorials — make apps, program music, and much more (Elementary, Middle, High)
GEMS’ goal is to help girls see themselves as creators, not just consumers of technology.
Computer Science Programming Languages to download and try.
The Beauty and Joy for Computing--A course for self-study in block-programming that takes girls through the basics of general coding.
Remember, this is a new way of thinking. Be sure to click around and try things. You can’t break the programs, and you will have fun learning. And be sure to access the tutorials.
Some of these sites are web-based; others require downloading and installing software. As always, use good judgment and ask permission before downloading. (Elementary, Middle, High)
Moving from easy to more challenging…
Scratch Programming Software–from MIT–just for kids or beginners (Elementary, Middle, High)
Building a Website–HTML — from Lissa Explains it All (Elementary, Middle, High)
Alice 3-D Programming Software for storytelling (Elementary, Middle, High)
Swift Playground–Apple’s beginning code resources — build apps for your IOS hardware (Elementary, Middle, High)
Squeakland–another great language for beginners (Elementary, Middle, High)
Stencyl–advanced video game making–challenging but well worth your time if you want to make games (Middle, High)
JFugue–cool music software (Elementary, Middle, High)
MIT’s App Inventor–learn to program for Android platforms ( Middle, High)
CodeAcademy — teach yourself to program Java or Python–requires Firefox or Chrome (Middle, High)
Dr. Java–moving toward the big time (Middle, High)
JCreator–another great Java learning site (Middle, High)
Python — really one of the most important languages you can learn (Elementary, Middle, High)
Blue J–another great site to learn Java (Elementary, Middle, High)
Resources for Women and Girls in Technology
AAUW’s Cybersecurity Curriculum made with help from Symantec to bring more women into this growing field
Association for Women in Computing — networking with professional women in the field
Resources from Microsoft on closing the gap in STEM
ACM’s Women and Computing –networking and scholarships
The Anita Borg Society for Women and Technology — supporting women and girls in Computer Science
The Ada Project — a clearinghouse of information and resources for women in computing
Dot Diva –a site for girls who want to change the world
Robotics is a fabulous way to introduce girls to programming–getting your robot to do what you want it to do develops persistence, one of the most important traits for STEM professionals. We recommend having either all-girl groups, or all-girl classes in the beginning however, to overcome the building and experience gap.
PICO Cricket Robotics –very creative, and friendly interface for programming–from MIT, so it is like Scratch. (Elementary, Middle, High)
LEGO® WeDo Robotics and Mindstorms–although marketed for young children, kids of all ages love this because it is so creative and infinitely expandable. We recommend buying LEGO® items from the LEGO® Education side of the market–more products and more support.
Girls new to robotics may not ever want to compete, so be sure that there are many opportunities for learning and fun without the pressure of competitions.