Let’s talk about teaching app development to 8-12 year-old girls. It’s difficult to keep any 8-12 year olds focused in general, so how do you do it with a lot of patience and fun?
Last week, I volunteered at a STEM student technology camp at Pacific University to do this very thing. I was there by way of ChickTech, a wonderful local non-profit which seeks to empower females to stay in the tech industry through meaningful experiences.
I arrived and was greeted by a sea of excited faces, buzzing with ideas about how their apps will work. Most were a gamification of a hobby they already love: shopping for clothes, selecting finger nail polish, and games similar to Candy Crush. We guided them through drawing out their concepts story board style.
So here’s where it gets interesting. We showed them how to design their apps on App Inventor software. We literally spent 2 hours just helping them sign into the software, select a few forms for animation and change the colors. Imagine 6 volunteers trying to aid 30 young students in this. There were forgotten passwords and user names, bathroom breaks, distractions with using the internet, drinks of water, giggles… the list goes on! But we did it! In the end I think the girls had a sense of how to make their ideas come to fruition.
To me this day represented something bigger; something that Axian supports and encourages. When I was young, working in technology wasn’t even something that was talked about. As I got older and began working in tech, it became clear that it was a male oriented career path stereotyped by the type of work. At most companies, I have been the only female, or one of two or three working in tech. To look out at the sea of budding female developers was very touching. Programs like this are invaluable to the future of women’s participation in technology!