Little Girls are Taking Over STEM

Michelle Leonhart (under the blue robot poster) leads young ladies in writing their first hand-written program

Yesterday, the LA Makerspace teamed up with our bestest friends at Crashspace to put on Coding Workshop for Young Girls (Ages 7 – 13). Many of the young ladies had prior experience with Scratch (a language that allows students to drag and drop visual snippets of code), and were able to apply that experience to their first day of written programming at this workshop.

These two had the answers to almost every question in class

The workshop was led by Michelle Leonhart who is an officer at here at Crashspace, a Director of the LA Makerspace, and a professional Software Engineer at textPlus. The workshop began with a short lecture on the history of women in programming. (Did you know that the vast majority of the original computer programmers were women? Or that the creator of the first algorithm intended for use on a computer was a woman? Or that the idea of machine-independent languages, debugging, and the compiler all come from one amazing woman?)

Working on her first written program ever

After the history lesson, Michelle then walked the students through the design and implementation of a series of simple programs in Processing. Processing is a programming language that stands on top of Java, but is optimized for creating drawings and animations. Because of this, every line of code written results in instant visual feedback, and helps programmers learn from their own code quickly and easily.

Rainbow animated circles demonstrating the power of for loops

The girls began by creating basic shapes, then graduated up to using for loops and if statements to create awesome animations. They also learned about randomized behaviour, RGB color codes, x-y coordinate systems, and how to set up references to files (mostly My Little Pony and Pokemon graphics) in their programs.

Helping each other with their code

If you missed out on this workshop, don’t fret! More will follow, and the materials are available for educational use here.

One thought on “Little Girls are Taking Over STEM

  • October 31, 2013 at 2:45 am

    What a great workshop! Michelle’s lecture was very informative and she provided a path to a solid foundation for understand coding. She simplified concepts so girls as young as 8 were comfortable in exploring. Thank you, hope it can happen again


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