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Girls crack the code for success with STEM

Posted on 17 October 2017
Girls crack the code for success with STEM
When Sarah Moran and her Geek Girl Academy colleagues were pondering why they have not only survived but thrived in the male-dominated world of technology, they realised they all learned to code as kids for fun by making their own games.

It's a passion the Victorian start-up hopes to instil in girls aged five to eight across the nation with activities such as their #MissMakesCode events.

"Back in the mid-90s, to make the computer work and play a game on it, you had to do some sort of physical level of coding," said Ms Moran, the co-founder and chief executive of the Geek Girl Academy.

"You had to be able to bash it in and turn the game on by hand," she said. "For us, if we wanted to make the games work, we had to learn how to program the computer."

"We didn't have technology curriculums back then either - it was just a matter of whoever had a computer and could work out how to use it, good on you."

The hands-on #MissMakesCode events, the first of their kind in the world for 5-8-year-old girls, are aligned to the national digital curriculum and can be rolled out in any school, in any community.

The event is designed to build confidence through a fun learning environment in the areas of algorithmic thinking, programming and coding.

The Geek Girl Academy which is dedicated to boosting the number of women with successful science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) careers wants girls to become comfortable with technology and coding as they learn to read and write.

They also want to get in before any gender biases set in.

"It's about getting girls into a room and saying this is an activity girls do and having that social impact from an early age, then they won't ever think that girls don't code," said Ms Moran.

The academy's #MissMakesCode school holiday event in Melbourne runs in collaboration with the NAB.

The bank supports the work of the academy through its Girl Geek in Residence, part of the Connecting Women in Technology program.

Helen Sultana, the #MissMakesCode program lead, said it taught foundational skills such as problem solving that could be applied to any topics.

Esther Warren, 7, and Jia Patel, 5, both said making games as well as new friends was a highlight of the event.

Ms Sultana also runs boot camps for teachers so they can learn the program to teach to their students.

For the Geek Girl Academy members - who are real-life women trailblazers in STEM it's not just about fun and games but also recruiting girls into technology fields from the start.

Their mission is to teach 1 million Australian women to build technology and create start-ups by 2025, and they also run other programs including #SheHacks and #SheMakesGames.

"We can say we're from industry and we're calling on you to join us. You could be us. You can be game developers, and you can build your own technology," Ms Moran said.

The Australian, Australia  by Stefanie Balogh
Tags: STEM

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