Watkins Memorial senior inspiring girls in STEM through coding camp

When it comes to computing, Ava Wandersleben is dynamic, curious and motivated. So much so that she wants to make sure that other young girls can also pursue in the field.

The rising high school student from Watkins Memorial High School is hosting a coding camp, called Putting Sisterhood in STEMfor girls in grades 5-9 to teach them the basics of web programming languages ​​known as HTML and CSS.

Ava said it’s important for young girls to learn these basic skills as technology becomes more ingrained in everyday life.

“Especially for girls, they definitely need a place for themselves to explore STEM, knowing that it’s good for girls to do these things and to have female role models,” she said. declared.

The camp, which Ava is hosting as part of a Girl Scout project, will take place on four consecutive Saturdays from July 23 to August 23. 13. Participants must attend three of the four classes, which will be taught virtually from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. July 21 is the last day to register.

Girls often lose interest in science, technology, engineering and math in middle school, says a 2017 study by Microsoft.

Creating a course specifically for middle school girls was important to Ava, so girls could build their interest in STEM from an early age.

Ava said that through her involvement with the Girls Who Code club and the robotics team at Watkins Memorial, they discussed ways to keep girls from losing interest in STEM with their advisor, Teresa Gordon.

And through her project, Ava is taking steps to ensure girls realize STEM is open to them, Gordon said.

“The motivation is to connect with the girls and encourage them to stay in STEM through high school and then into their careers,” she said of the camp. “For me, it’s so exciting and empowering to see a young woman take this direction and do something.”

Gordon, who teaches computer science at Watkins Memorial, said the Girls Who Code Club has become an “empowerment sisterhood”.

“We support each other and it doesn’t have to be about IT, it’s just really women supporting women, and you can do whatever you want to do,” he said. she stated.

And through the robotics team, Gordon said she pushed the girls, including Ava, to be more active, just like the boys.

Coding camp is another way Ava gets hands-on. She said she created the program herself based on concepts she learned in Gordon’s class as well as a college-level HTML course she took. She will also teach it alongside her younger sister, Kaitlyn.

Ava’s love for computing won’t stop with her Girl Scout project, and she plans to major in the subject once she’s in college.

“I think what I love so much about computing is that it forces you to think and it’s almost like solving a puzzle with every problem that comes your way,” she said. “If you just reason, you get to the answer and it’s really fun when you can get there because you know you love having to think really hard to get there.”

The camp is part of Ava’s Gold Award project. The Gold Award is Girl Scouting’s most prestigious award and requires girls to create a lasting solution to a real-world problem, according to Girl Scouts of the USA.

Ava’s goal is for camp participants to spread the message that STEM and IT is a place for girls to succeed.

“What I hope is that these girls will keep these skills with them for a while and then they can show their passion for STEM to other girls who may not have been able to come or didn’t know about it,” she said.

Gordon said that beyond camp, Ava will continue to make a difference for the girls because she is motivated not only for herself but also for others.

“She’s a really good person who will help anyone, you know, whatever she knows, she’ll be there for anyone,” she said. “I expect great things from her in the future just because of the kind of person she is.”

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Twitter: @MariaDeVito13

If you are going to

What: Bringing the sister community into STEM coding camp

When: 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on July 23, July 30, August 6 and August 13

Register on https://bit.ly/3aIecwd.

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