STEM

Rochester Institute of Tech's Women in Computing To Share Coding Experiences with High School Students

Female students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) will partner with local high schools in the annual Hour of Code event held around the world during Computer Science Education Week, December 7-13.

During the week, teachers, parents and friends are encouraged to give a one-hour tutorial on computer coding to students. Tens of millions of middle and high school students in more than 180 countries are expected to participate in 200,000 coding events around the world and 60,000 events in the United States.

"The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code," said Code.org Founder and CEO Hadi Partovi, "to show that computer science is not rocket science and anybody can learn the basics."

In Rochester, four members of RIT's Women in Computing Group will join White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith in a panel discussion dealing with the gender gap in computer science. The event, held at Seneca Falls High School, is intended to encourage female students to pursue careers in computing.

The event will include a screening and discussion of "CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap," a documentary by Robin Reynolds on why women often opt out of computer science.

The RIT Women in Computing Group members will also help teach computer coding at the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection. Before the panel discussion, they will tour Mynderse Academy in Seneca Falls to see demonstrations of the school's computer science and robotics classes.

"Girls and minorities are severely underrepresented in programming, but fortunately, there's something we can do about it," said Lana Verschage, director of RIT's Women in Computing. "Our goal is to get kids to think, create and have a blast — all while learning some computer programming."

The RIT students involved in the Hour of Code events in Rochester are Shannon McIntosh (second-year software engineering major) and Asia Woodside, Morgan Keiser and Ariana Caraballo (all second-year computer science majors).

"I'm looking forward to sharing my personal experiences with being a female in computing," McIntosh said. "I think it's incredible how you can create a massive project from nothing. If you have a laptop and put some work in, you can develop just about anything."

Others interested in participating in Hour of Code can download tutorials with themes from "Star Wars," "Minecraft" and "Frozen" from code.org.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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