By Shania Hurtado, Founder & President of Girl Up Klein Collins, Co-Coalition Leader for the Girl Up Southeast Texas Coalition
Girl Up Klein Collins hosted our very first Houston Girls Code Coding Camp at the Barbara Bush Branch Library in Houston, Texas! This free, five-day camp (June 17-21, 2019) gave 15 girls in 4-8th grade an opportunity to explore concepts in computer science, robotics, and other STEM fields.
We played interactive games (a ‘Simon Says’ inspired game to explain “If Else” concepts in computer programming), created our own inventions using ‘STEM for Social Good’ to change the world, coded favorite qualities about ourselves (“I am intelligent, confident, and determined”) using Java, assembled dog robots by analyzing the various aspects of robotics, watched Hidden Figures, and solved complex math equations using PEMDAS.
Not only did our camp provide girls access to STEM in a fun way, it exposed girls to valuable skills and new possibilities. We’re creating STEMinists and advocates for other young girls in our community, and that inches us closer to closing the gender gap. In the United States, just 20% of computer science professionals are women. What’s even more troubling is that with an already small number of women in science and engineering fields, only 2% of professionals are Latina; 7% are Asian; another 2% are Black; and only 1% are American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Houston Girls Code is actively creating opportunities for young girls of all ethnicities to pursue STEM by providing them with resources, and a community to support them.
Our mission to inspire young girls feel strong, smart, capable, and ambitious while pursuing STEM careers was a success! With more than 10 different volunteers, vegan cookies, and a screening of the film Hidden Figures, participants left with a newfound desire to pursue computer science.
We can’t wait for next year’s camp! Next year, we’re aiming for bigger and better: more attendees, showcasing advanced technology, partnering with sponsors in the area, and creating an even more exciting and engaging camp for the girls! We are so excited to continue to advocate for #WomenInSTEM! Young girls can change the world. It is up to us to make sure they know it, too.