UCL Engineering with Generating Genius, University of West Indies Medical School (Jamaica) and Sketchpatch hosted the Google Girls Coding programme, part of Google’s international initiative Made with Code.
The pioneering programme is aimed to inspire girls to code and get more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and careers. It brought together 32 Year 9 girls; 16 at UCL in London and 16 at UWI in Jamaica to collaborate in transatlantic pairs via Google+ on a coding project to produce digital art using Sketchpatch.
Students were encouraged to learn and share with others through an explorative, collaborative and playful process that also challenged and stretched them in order to improve their technical understanding and problem-solving skills. The girls in the UK and Jamaica had the opportunity to learn how to code with Sketchpatch from programmers and teachers both physically and via live online tutoring via Google+.
During the week long program, students had the opportunity to meet and talk to guest artists about their designs. Throughout the programme the Google+ features including
hangouts, chat and GoogleDocs where employed by the girls for their collaborative coding challenge.
Professor Anthony Finkelstein, Dean of UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences said:
“We are proud of our relationship with Google and with Generating Genius that allowed this wonderful programme to happen. We are even prouder of the participants whose imagination and hard work have excited and inspired us.”
Jane Butler, Vice-Dean of Entreprise of UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences said:
“Participating in the Google Girls Coding programme with Generating Genius and SketchPatch showed me once again how girls can be excited by what code can do and proficient at creating wonderful results. The young girls who attended the summer
school at UCL were mostly new to coding indicating their schools did not teach it. To see their delight at being able to achieve great art from code and understand better how it can transform every aspect of our lives was extremely rewarding. I truly believe that if
we could expose all young teenage girls to coding, it would take away the mystery and lead more of them to a career in computer science and engineering. What a fantastic outcome that would be for them and for our future workforce”
Dr. Elpida Makrygianni, UCL Engineering Education Officer said:
“We were absolutely delighted to have teamed up with Generating Genius, University of West Indies and Sketchpatch on Google Girls Coding, as we all share the same vision and commitment to increase participation and access in STEM and encourage more young people – especially girls – to consider careers in science and engineering. Learning how to code is an essential skill irrespective of whether you choose computer science as a career path or not. It enables creativity, equips with thinking skills that are critical in all domains and builds confidence. Computer science as a field desperately needs young people from diverse and multiple perspectives and it is our hope that this innovative programme is a step in the right direction.”
Gideon Woldeslassie – Generating Genius Project Manager said:
“We’re thrilled at how successful we feel this programme has gone. For me personally, the most heartening thing has been seeing the reactions of the girls to being able to produce such brilliant work; many surprised themselves with how far they were able to take their brief, and were clearly so proud of what they had ultimately achieved. We hope to use the success of the programme as a platform to reach more young people in future, to inspire them around computer science
Dr Patrice Simmonds, University of West Indies said:
“The project is a really important contribution to developing STEM talent in Jamaica. Our young people face many of the same challenges as those in Britain in terms of lack of female role models in science and technology, and this is a very important opportunity to address these issues through a girls-only coding project.”
Sasha Makowski – guest artist in residence said:
“Being part of the Google Girls Coding event was a fantastic experience. Art provided the girls with a common ground on which they could cooperate and work together and making great pieces of art. The event connected girls from London and Jamaica, and it was a real privilege for me to work with them as artist in residence.”
“I really enjoyed experimenting with the functions. I was free to make mistakes and not be confined to a particular idea.”
Arida Alaj, 14
“At school coding is taught in a very complicated manner, I wanted to better understand it. I really enjoyed the independence that we had in the programme to do our own
coding and get help from our pair or teacher when we wanted it.”
Muslima Miah, 14
“I enjoyed communicating with the Jamaican girls because it involved teamwork and we shared ideas with each, we create detailed sketches with coding that I never thought I could create.”
Silvia Fuentes Piccolo, 14
“Many people assume it is just a man’s job, but I have always found it interesting how you can use numbers, letters and symbols to create a piece of work or a programme.”
Chante Stevens, 14
The event also featured an awards ceremony for the Google Girls Coding project to celebrate the girls achievement and also to pick the UK-Jamaican pair that had the winning digital art project team.