Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology (TJHSST), Virginia has seen a wave of encouraging girls to be involved in computer science for the past few years. Coding Lady Colonials, sponsored by Computer Science teacher Ria Galanos, provides a friendly yet encouraging atmosphere to motivate girls (and boys!) in learning various aspects of coding.
Although students are required to take Foundations of Computer Science, an introductory course in Java, continued retention of students, particularly girls, is challenging. The increased exposure is not enough to increase the number of girls in upper-level computer science classes, including mobile and web app development, parallel computing, and artificial intelligence.
However, the CSterhood program also includes multiple activities for all the families to participate in as one large group of girls in computer science. At the launch party in October, students were assigned to their families, and after some introductions, the first challenge was announced. The first challenge was:
You have numbers 1-1000. They are all in order. One number is missing. How do you find the missing number?
Juliana said, “When you’re learning Karel and simple Java, it’s difficult to envision all the things that can be accomplished with programming.” She and Anna intend to show girls what they can accomplish with programming, encouraging them to go beyond the graduation requirements in pursuing computer science courses. They hope that “CSterhood will strengthen the girls-in-tech subset of the TJ community. TJ is above industry standards in terms of % of girls pursuing CS but we can do better!”
Niharika Vattikonda is currently a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Northern Virginia – she loves biology and computer science. She recently completed a yearlong freshman research project on the effect of electromagnetic fields on E. coli. She first was exposed to Computer Science in middle school, when she learned coding in HTML/CSS, studied Java in freshman year, and is now learning app development on her own. Niharika enjoys STEM outreach, starting science clubs for girls at elementary schools and volunteering at science fairs and hackathons. When she’s not coding or writing for Scientista, Niharika enjoys debating, participating in Model United Nations, singing, and writing for her own blog, Teen Thoughts on Politics.