Earlier this year The Maker Mom’s local companion site, STEM Kids Chicago, partnered with Tamasin Ford of Power Up Tech Academy, to host a mother-daughter coding program, Apps and Snacks. The coding workshop was designed to introduce girls and their mothers (or older supportive woman) to programming in relaxed environment. To do a girls-only program is one thing, but my experience tells me that including moms and other female role models is important, especially if those women grew up in an era when programming was considered a “boy” thing.
Tamasin and I know that programming skills open the doors to lucrative careers in high-tech fields where women remain underrepresented.
Not only did the girls create two fabulous apps in about as many hours, but they left excited and empowered. We shared a few take-home tips for the women in attendance and want to share them with you as well.
How to Inspire Girls to Code
1. Expose her to female role models.
- Read up on Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and Hedy Lamarr. They created the foundation for the technology we use every day! Megan Smith is CTO of the United States.
- Point out women in TV and movies who are technical experts, e.g. Loretta in Miles from Tomorrowland, Honey Lemon and GoGo Tomago from Big Hero 6, Felicity in Arrow.
2. Let her choose coding and tech projects based on her interests.
- Build a website.
- Create a video game or animated story.
- Construct and program a robot.
- Check out Google’s Made with Code website.
3. Point out coding in everyday life.
- Learn how products like cars, GPS, or smartphone apps work.
- Right-click on any website to view page source code or inspect elements and see the code that built the page.
4. Play offline games and brain teasers that require logical thinking.
- Try chess, Sudoku, Settlers of Catan, etc.
- See Marbles, the Brain Store (affiliate link), for great examples.
5. Show her how coding releases her superpowers.
- Develop apps that can help your community.
- Read stories of girls and young women making a difference with code. Follow our Facebook pages for news and sign up for STEM Kids Chicago newsletter to stay in the loop with local tech events and special programs, including ones that are just for girls.
6. Make it social.
- Form a coding club, or work with your local school or library to create one.
- Share, comment and participate on coding sites with active communities, like Scratch.
- Sign up with a friend for a class or summer camp at Power Up Tech Academy.
7. Visit places where she can check out the latest technology.
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Auto Show
- Maker Faires
8. Get her involved in app-specific competitions.
Add your tips to inspire girls who code in the comments.