–by Svetla Tomanova
The club focuses on coding robots to complete tasks such as knocking down bowling pins, completing mazes, or creating a dance routine with lights, music and motion. The girls use five different types of robots, including Botley , Bee-Bot, mouse robots, Dash robots and Spheros, which are controlled by arrow buttons or iPads with block coding. They also engage in coding competitions and other fun activities.
Driven partly by experimenting, but mostly by pure love for learning computing skills from the experts, the girls took a field trip to 757 Makerspace in Norfolk, in December. There, they learned about local creators who use technology to develop and sell their goods. They worked on laser cutting, ceramics and screen-printing to make their creations.
Laila Addison, a fourth grader, said that her favorite part was the pottery because she likes to paint. Her peer, Jaleesa Johnson, marveled at the people there because “they were very nice” and said, “The Makerspace let us make our own things, and I would love to go back.” The field trip was “a fun experience” for Kamiyah Russell too.
“The Makerspace is a homestead of innovative people who cultivate an environment for creative design,” said Principal Dr. Catrina Manigo. “It is a safe and happy place with no boundaries to design masterpieces.”
The goal of the Girls Who Code club is to build sisterhood and confidence in computer programming, and the girls are gaining valuable real-world experience through their activities. According to Nicole Holdcraft, instructional technology specialist and a principal creator of the club, the girls “build and debug code, code together and problem-solve in the weekly meets.” They are also learning about technology-related careers where females are underrepresented.
Last year, the club’s first year, 22 girls participated and accepted the challenge. Currently, the club has 14 students and more are expected to join.
Manigo has been supportive of this club and believes that creativity is the expression of the heart. She asserts that by empowering the next generation of technologists, we can design a world of possibilities with only a dream.