NCWIT and Google fund department program for teaching young women to code

Descriptive image for NCWIT and Google fund department program for teaching young women to code

In spring of 2016, Juliana Lu-Yang, a senior at Montgomery Blair High School Magnet program, contacted PhD student Elissa Redmiles to work with the high school's new programming club for women. Redmiles worked with the program, and then decided establish it further to welcome all women from the Montgomery Blair especially those who are not a part of the magnet program. Redmiles applied for and has received a NCWIT Student Seed Fund Award (also funded by Google) to fund the new part of the program with materials and activities to encourage all women from the high school to learn about Computer Science and other STEM fields.

The $5,000 award will introduce students to computer science through HTML, CSS, and Javascript. "We will use existing curriculum that I developed with a SIGCSE grant (csinabox.cs.umd.edu), CSUnplugged exercises, and other free tutorials, " said Redmiles. She also thanked Assistant Professor Marine Carpuat and Michelle Mazurek for writing letters to support the endeavor.

The organization particularly encourages young women who are non-magnet students at Montgomery Blair to learn how to program. Many of the STEM magnet students are introduced to computer science early, and have more opportunities in the feild their their non-magnet program counterparts. Participating high school students will be a $100 honorarium (above minimum wage) to attend ten one-hour long sessions led by women who are graduate students and undergraduate students in the Department of Computer Science. Research has shown that incentives may encourage students to try something new including coding.

In addition to learning how to code, the students and mentors will also go on a field trip to a local high tech company. Students will be introduced to more professionals in the field.

Redmiles also seeks parental consent and IRB approval to evaluate the program using an existing measure to determine the impact of the program on the students' interest in pursuing STEM and CS higher education and careers. She expects that the results of this evaluation (on two 10-week student cohorts) will become a paper or poster at Grace Hopper, SIGCSE, or TAPIA.

About The Grant

The NCWIT Student Seed Fund has invested over $234,250 in more than 141 student-run programs for women in computing at non-profit, U.S. Academic Alliance member institutions nationwide (excluding U.S. territories). The NCWIT Student Seed Fund (sponsored by Google.org) offers an opportunity to create or expand ACM-W chapters on college and university campuses. The Amplification Award is intended for existing groups interested in expanding their impact through existing and new programs on their campus and in their geographic region. Recipients of this funding will also have the opportunity to mentor an emerging WIC group at another institution.

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