July 25, 2013

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Teen Girls Learn Computer Science, Programming Skills at Summer Camp

Rachel Madison

July 25, 2013

A week-long camp held in July that was geared specifically toward introducing young women to the possibilities of computer and technology careers proved to be a success for the 12 girls who participated.

The camp, called Girls Code at CTEC, was held at the Canyons Technical Education Center and challenged the teen girls to learn about computer science and programming. The camp was the brainchild of Cody Henrichsen, a programming instructor at CTEC.

Henrichsen has taught high school students computer programming at CTEC for the past four years, but has noticed that his class typically doesn’t have more than a few female students. Girls Code at CTEC was one way for him to combat this problem.

“For each of the past two years, only one girl enrolled in CTEC’s computer programming course,” he said. “Women are a huge minority within the computer science and technology fields. The fact that my classroom has been male heavy helped me decide to introduce girls to computer science and programming. I held a two-day camp last year and it was very successful, so this year I decided to hold it for a full week.”

During the week-long camp, the participants learned to use programs such as App Inventor and JavaScript. Besides learning these skills, the girls also had the opportunity to meet and listen to several women who currently work in the technology field.

Sara Jones, CEO of KoDefy and co-founder of the Women Technology Council, was one of the women who spoke to the teens.

“For a lot of the girls, it was their first exposure to computer science and programming,” she said. “The camp was a great benefit because they got exposure. I had the opportunity to talk to them about using technology to change the world. I wanted to paint a vision for them that they can choose pathways where they can do meaningful, creative work that is going to change lives.”

In addition, the girls were also able to take a tour of VPI Engineering in Draper. They learned what goes on at a contract electronic systems engineering and manufacturing services firm through a tour and meeting several of the company’s engineers.

“The girls got a chance to see how VPI changes lives by some of the really innovative devices we design for our clients,” said Jackie Juston, business development director at VPI Engineering. “They also got a chance to see what engineers do on a daily basis and how we all work together as a team to come up with products that solve problems and make people’s lives easier and better.”

Overall, Henrichsen said this year’s camp ended up being very informative and fun for the students who participated. He hopes to continue hosting summer camps annually, as well as other small events during the school year.

“Less than one out of every 10 schools offers computer science classes, so this camp gave these girls a chance to learn something they normally wouldn’t,” Henrichsen said. “This camp is designed to resolve stereotypes. It’s not only fun and interesting, but it’s also a chance for girls to succeed and do amazing things for themselves and society.”

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