How Girls Code held its third annual camp at UMBC this past summer, enrolling a record 130 girls in grades 3 – 9. Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the campers learned about computer science and robotics, and balanced time spent completing technical projects with yoga practice designed to promote health, self-awareness, and mindfulness.
CBS Baltimore recently highlighted the camp, founded by Katie Egan ‘94, history, and Lisa Schlossnagle out of a desire to connect girls with greater opportunities to learn about STEM fields early on. “As a parent, I noticed that a lot of the after school classes were tailored toward boys,” particularly in STEM, Egan explained.
As Associate Dean Marie desJardins, of UMBC’s College of Engineering and Information Technology, has previously commented, early exposure can be key to capturing children’s interest in a technical field and sustaining it over time, and thus plays an important role in diversifying computer sciences fields. “Coding, robotics, and computational thinking is a practice,” Schlossnagle told a reporter from Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, in additional media coverage of the program. “You don’t just get introduced to one little bit of it and you suddenly master it and you can just do it. It’s like learning an instrument, it’s like any discipline.”
UMBC’s Summer Enrichment Experience program offers the How Girls Code camp in addition to 16 other camps, which welcomed nearly 275 K – 12 students to UMBC this summer. Additional programs focused on everything from Japanese anime to music performance to chess.
Banner image: Campers in a computer lab learning about computing and robotics. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.