A group of girls gathers in BARN’s Electronic and Technical Arts (ETA) Studio on Thursdays after school, each one writing code on a workstation or laptop into the late afternoon. This club, part of the national organization of Girls Who Code (GWC), was started through the generosity of BARN volunteers and the Suquamish Foundation.
ETA Studio Lead Annette Walker explains the vision: “Computer programming is used in so many ways, not just by software engineers. It’s a super power. My hope is for more girls to realize they can code, to learn something, and continue on in the future.”
Facilitator Rebecca Graham, a software engineer specializing in machine learning, donates her time each week leading the club through the Girls Who Code curriculum. Since September, under Graham’s guidance, the girls have been exploring different ideas and learning languages including Scratch and Python. Following the curriculum, the club started with an info session in late September and continued meeting into February 2019.
The local community helps GWC happen at BARN. Recruitment posters were shared with teachers who responded with enthusiasm, telling their students about the opportunity. A grant from the Suquamish Foundation provided funding to purchase seven Raspberry Pi stations – affordable and flexible technology. The multipurpose Raspberry Pi can be used by programmers from beginners to advanced levels.
ETA volunteers helped assemble the stations. Other community members donated additional equipment. A recent college graduate has also assisted Rebecca on Thursday afternoons. “GWC gets much support from many Studio members,” says Walker.
When 5 pm comes, the girls leave the studio with smiles on their faces. One club member happily describes spending the afternoon inventing games in Python. Another girl enjoys “making changes and seeing what happens.” And a third club member explains what she likes about GWC at BARN: “I’m getting better at coding. I’d never done it before. Everyone is super helpful.”