Young girls in Girls Who Code Club at Bitney College Preparatory School
In January 2016 Nevada City Rotary teamed up with Bitney College Preparatory High School to launch the first Girls Who Code program in Nevada County. The intention was to create one Club of 20 young girls in grades 6-12. Our first semester, the Club met every Tuesday for five months under the direction of Ken Krulger, the president of Nevada City-based data consulting and training company Scale Unlimited and the club’s volunteer teacher. Demand was so great that we recruited a second instructor and started an additional club to meet on Wednesdays.
In the August 2016 a second semester program began with 22 girls. Stephany Lewis, Telestream, is instructing with NU Freshman Thea Pelayo as a student instructor.
Thea came forward during the summer 2016 with a proposal to teach a summer intensive for co-eds. For one week in July, twelve 6th - 12th grade students participated as Thea taught them how to code Android apps.
The Union interviewed Thea and created a video Opening Doors: Nevada County teen teaches peers to code (Kids These Days - VIDEO) at http://www.theunion.com/news/23028253-113/opening-doors-nevada-county-teen-teaches-peers-to
Podcast Archive Notice on KVMR See Jane Do Program
Click Listen now to hear Elisa Parker interview Thea Pelayo (NU Freshman) about teaching the Summer Intensive Training for fellow class mates on how to code mobile APPs. You can drag the control arrow to 16:38 minutes to start where the interview begins. Thea talks about Dave Bunje and Rotary sponsoring the Intensive Workshop and Girls Who Code program. Thank you Michael Young for organizing and participating in the interview!
In March, Nevada City Rotary partnered with Grass Valley and 49er Breakfast Clubs to request a District Grant to acquire new computers for the program.
CBS reports on Aiming for 1 million "Girls Who Code"
The charter high school and Nevada City Rotary are co-sponsoring the Nevada County chapter of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit founded in 2012 that aims to close the gender gap in computer science by teaching girls about programming, web design, mobile development and robotics.
As reported in The Union's article Girls Who Code Coming to Nevada County, the idea to start a local Girls Who Code chapter grew out of a conversation Rotary member Dave Bunje had nearly a year ago with his cousin, who works for San Francisco-based Electronic Arts. Bunje’s cousin mentioned the company’s need for more female programmers, and also told him about Girls Who Code.
Bunje saw an opportunity locally to help close that gender gap in technology, starting with the community’s middle and high school students.
“For all of the tech progress we have in this county, we’re not real advanced with what we’re offering to youth,” Bunje said.
Eventually, Bunje connected with Chris Schneider, who teaches physics and computer science at Bitney, and is business partners with Krugler. Krugler agreed to teach the classes, and Bitney agreed to host the club on the school’s campus.
Russ Jones, the school’s director, said the mission of Girls Who Code fits in well with the school’s focus on integrating technology and media into its curriculum. The school offers coding, digital media and video production classes to its students in an effort to help them develop hands-on, career-oriented skills.
“We just believe really strongly that without some kind of knowledge of what the workforce looks like and what jobs are available, students are sometimes disconnected from their learning, and they don’t see a connection between what we’re asking them to learn in school and how it’s going to be applied after high school,” Jones said.
The club focuses on a set of skills that isn’t always emphasized during the school day, especially among young women, Krugler said.
According to Girls Who Code, 74 percent of girls express an interest in science, technology and related subjects in middle school, but just 0.4 percent of high school girls choose computer science as a college major.
“I think a big part of it is this perception and subconscious feeling among teachers that, for example, programming is for geeky guys,” Krugler said. “And it’s not.”
Empowering female middle and high school students through Girls Who Code helps give them the confidence to pursue their interest in science and technology and make an impact in what have traditionally been male-dominated fields, Krugler said — and bridging that gender gap is long overdue.
“The industry is crying for this,” Krugler said.
Who is Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors. While they are largely in the US, a number of clubs have formed internationally.