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Coding Club for Girls coming soon to Nashua Technology Center

NASHUA – Nashua Technology Center officials are working to close the gender gap in technology and will soon be providing a Girls Who Code Club.

The goal of the club, which can be offered to girls in grades 3-12, is to teach girls about computer science concepts in a fun, comfortable and inclusive setting.

Schools across the country are able to access curriculum and other resources through the Girls Who Code nonprofit.

The club is split into two programs: one for students grades 3-5 and one for those in grades 6-12.

“Research shows that STEM (science, technology, education and math) fields desperately need more girls and women. The number of women in STEM fields has decreased since the 1990s. It is projected that the number of female computer scientists will fall from 24% to 22% by 2025,” Nashua High School North educator Erin Knoetig said.

Since last year, Knoetig has been able to teach a Girls in STEAM (which adds art to the aforementioned subject areas) pilot program, and now a Drones & Technology Extended Learning Opportunity, which focuses on flying drones, computational thinking and women in technology.

The Nashua Technology Center received an incentive grant from the New Hampshire Department of Education which allowed them to develop the pilot program Girls in STEAM for the 2018-19 school year. After a successful pilot, students are now able to participate in Drones & Technology.

“After teaching the Girls in STEAM Drone ELO and teaching the girls one-on-one, interacting with them and seeing what they experience every day, I feel that teenage girls, even those who like STEM classes, need an educational environment where they feel confident, where they feel they can fail and where they feel they can succeed,” Knoetig said.

She added, “Students succeed best when they are taught by a teacher they can relate to. I want to be that role model for the girls. With drones and with coding, I have never done either, until now.”

Knoetig is hopeful that the Girls Who Code Club will be able to run its first meeting in January 2020.

The Girls Who Code Club has several objectives, where the girls will:

“Learn to see themselves as computer scientists;

Gain exposure to project management and problem solving techniques;

Join a safe and supportive environment of peers and role models;

And Learn the foundational computer science concepts that form the basis for all programming languages.”

All members will be able to learn how to use software such as JavaScript, Python and Scratch. The third through fifth-grade program will begin with guided lesson plans while using materials from Girls Who Code’s book and Learn to Code and Change the World.

The club for grades 6-12 will use online-based lesson plans and activities.

As noted by Girls Who Code, the main focus for grades 3-5 is “developing bravery and confidence in their Computer Science skills” while the focus for grades 6-12 is to “create a Final Project where girls work together to solve a problem that is important to them, connecting the skills they have learned with the ability to solve real-world problems and create change in their communities.”

The grades 6-12 program will finish out with a project that allows the girls to choose a real-world issue and use the skills they’ve learned to create a project, such as a game or a website, that relates to the real-world issue of their choosing. Students will then present their projects at a Girls Who Code Project Launch Party.

Girls Who Code provides schools with 120 hours worth of curriculum with many topics to choose from. Participating schools also receive a $300 grant which will go toward encouraging students to join.

The club is also open for boys to join, however, the projects are focused on girls and technology.

For now, the club facilitators will undergo training and work to enroll students in the club.

Grace Pecci may be reached at 594-1243, or at gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.