WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington’s Young Scientist Academy kicked off their Code Girls program on Monday.
Code Girls is a free summer program that aims to give girls the confidence to enter the world of computer science and information technology. The three-week project guides girls as young as eight years old through fundamental computer coding, web development and database management and allows them to use those skills to connect with the world around them.
Females are under-represented in many STEM fields, and instructor Anne White says she hopes that connecting with girls will change the story and empower the next generation of leaders. The girls that participate in the program have big dreams and they’re already well on their way to accomplishing them.
Naomy Alvarado, a student, says she has already learned a little bit of coding in school and she wants to design games when she grows up.
“Some girls are afraid to be leaders and we want them to know they can be leaders and it doesn’t matter what gender you are,” said Alvarado.
Maddy Rusu is another young participant that joins the zoom meetings all the way from her home in the country of Moldova. Rusu says she began coding when she was nine years old and she wants to be a programmer when she grows up.
“Coding is my future,” said Rusu. “Coding is not about gender, nationality or religion but its about fun skills and knowledge and finding solutions to various problems.”
While the program has strong roots in computer science, instructors explain the skills they’re teaching the young girls will take them far no matter what path they choose in life.
“Coding is a skill that can be used in any career field whether its teaching, public health, data and computer science, medical fields, this is an important skill,” said instructor Anne White. “I want these girls to go on and be leaders in whatever they choose to do with their life.”
The effort is much bigger than just inspiring girls to accomplish great things. A major component of Code Girls is completing a community service project, crunching data, creating models and dashboards and studying how things like climate change, racial inequality and COVID-19 impact the people of New Hanover County.
“Our girls have generated an awesome list of questions. Why do women in Wilmington get COVID more than men? Which areas, which neighborhoods is it effecting the most? Which people? Are people in essential jobs getting COVID faster than people that are not? And ultimately, using their data to help people make great decisions,” said White.
Last session, the Code Girls tackled projects like tracking the impact of COVID-19 in the New Hanover County community, interacting with 3-D simulations of the deep sea and learning firsthand how technology was employed to reduce HIV/ AIDS infections in adolescent girls in Africa.
“These girls are the leaders of the next generation and by giving them the tools to learn about it and educate it and teach the community, people are more willing to listen and be engaged,” said White.
Young Scientist Academy is a nonprofit that offers after-school, home school and summer programs for kids of all backgrounds to inspire them to broaden their perspectives and become community ambassadors of science and technology. While registration for the summer 2020 session has closed, Young Scientist Academy hopes to announce the fall 2020 dates soon. You can find information on how to donate or get involved on their website.