Girls Design With </Code>: Virtual program for all girls around the world!

It all started...

As a part of the CoBuild19 efforts to help youth and their caregivers to spend quality time together building and creating while the COVID19 pandemic.

Back in November 2019, we launched the "Design With Code" virtual program for kids, caregivers, and educators with the aim of using computational thinking, coding, and a Micro:bit to identify and solve problems. The program was a great pilot to test out some ideas, virtual interaction, documentation strategies, and learning from the participant's responses and feedback.

Starting from that experience, we decided to launch a renewed and more focused experience for a specific target group: 10 - 13-year-old girls.

And the next big question: How can we make it more accessible and open to ALL girls*?

*"Girls" refers to any gender expansive youth.

Girls Design With </Code>

Girls Design With </Code> is a 6 week virtual design and coding workshop experience for 10 - 13-year-old girls around the world. The program highlights the importance of coding as a tool for problem-solving and the role of women from diverse backgrounds in Computer Sciences.

Girls will learn creative coding and design skills to identify and solve problems using the MakeCode platform and the BBC Micro:bit. The program has group discussions, creative thinking routines, and weekly challenges!

And not only were the participants from around the world, but also the team of facilitators (United States, México, and Albania) was a sign of diverse professional backgrounds, passions, and expertise...uniting for a common goal: Inspire girls.

And finally, the day came! - Launching a program in the virtual world can feel very uncertain. Who will join? Will they keep joining after the weeks? Will they participate and share? Time zones? Was the instruction clear? ...

But what a beautiful surprise, we had girls from 17 different countries and from 17 US states join the program!

Girls from around the world!

Saturday's live sessions

Every Saturday for 6 weeks we met on a live session. We were very intentional in using the time together to introduce basic coding concepts, foster interactions, group activities, questions, and content reinforcement. Not just “demonstrating” how to code.

Here you can watch the GDWC live sessions recordings.

Weekly challenges

Starting from the live sessions' basic content, we launched a weekly challenge. The girls had a week to create a project on MakeCode that met the weekly challenge requirements. The challenge objectives were aligned to the participant's personal experiences on different topics: From presenting themselves through animated emojis and sharing a traditional song from their culture to identifying and solving a problem in their communities.

A game-changer for the program was the documentation, sharing, and feedback strategy. As the time together wasn't enough for sharing each of the participant's projects, and we really wanted them to present their ideas and explain their code, so we incorporated Flipgrid, a video tool platform that allowed us to create a safe and closed space for the girls to share their code, ideas, projects, give feedback, ask questions and interact with each other.

Here you can read the description of the weekly challenges.

Creative contests

One of the main objectives of the program was to highlight the roles of women in Computer Sciences. Each challenge topic was usually connected to a real story, invention, or potential field to explore the world of coding. But we wanted the girls to engage more in learning about the women who made history, so we launched the "Seeing double" contest.

Girls were asked to recreate a historic photograph or artwork related to the history of women in Computer Sciences by using themselves and objects found at home. And we also encourage them to research and search about women in their countries who are doing or did amazing things in computer sciences!

And that's a wrap!

Things to think about...