The first Coding School for Girls run by Cambridge University Computer Laboratory and Cambridge Coding Academy, helped 76 girls, aged 15-18 with little or no prior coding experience, design and develop an online game, build Instagram-like image filters and programme drones to fly semi-autonomously. The aim of the one-week coding summer school was to spur excitement in digital innovation and inspire young women to explore opportunities in technology and computer science.
Dr Robert Harle, who helped organise the event last week at the University, commented,:“We were really impressed with how excited, interested and creative the girls were. Starting from nothing, they were able to build a simple web game and then independently add new gameplay options, graphics, scoring mechanisms and all sorts of great additions we had never thought of.”
The school materials, developed by Cambridge Coding Academy with University input, taught coding in a hands-on fashion that engaged the girls and meant they were learning by doing. Expert tutors were on hand to encourage them and assist in their exploration beyond the syllabus, while daily talks allowed them to expand their knowledge of computer science.
When asked whether the course had affected their perception of computer science, one of the girls commented: “It's made me want to learn to code so that I can write programmes myself and don't have to rely on resources. I see computing in a better light and find it more interesting; I now think I might take it for A-Level!”
Another student added: “I better understand the subject and realise that it is extensive. I now would really like to study it at university as I feel it incorporates all the things I enjoy: maths, problem solving, creativity and design.”
“The girls were extremely social and created a great learning atmosphere. They were self-motivated and a pleasure to teach. We hope that they continue to develop their new skills and spread the word to their friends,” added Dr Harle.
The summer school was free following generous sponsorship by Sophos, CSR, Microsoft and RealVNC, as well as a personal donation from an alumnus.