Apr 102015
 
Three girls with backs to camera, around a laptop

Getting serious with art & code

On March 31, 2015 we had our first community event of the year and our first ever workshop with Brownies, i.e. Girl Scouts who are in the 2nd and 3rd grade.

Twenty Brownies joined us on campus at UT Dallas for programming that was focused on giving the girls a glimpse of the role of women in computing and on playing with code. We knew that for this age, we should try to move as much as possible away from abstract concepts, so we developed some new activities that we hoped would connect and excite the girls.

Drawing of a man with necktie and mustache, to which the student added a crown and ponytail after learning about Ada Lovelace.

One of the activities was to draw a picture of the first programmer. There were a lot of mustaches, but this was our favorite! We suspect some revision happened after we talked about Ada Lovelace.

Activities included drawing pictures of the first programmer, learning about Ada Lovelace, and a rousing game of “spot the programmer” where the students were shown slides with two images and they had to pick the one they thought was a programmer. We finished up by showing some interesting projects that bring together art and programming and then did some very basic activities with the Lilypad Arduino and the blink sketch.

Highlights from the one hour event included:

  • General amazement that there are elevators in college.
  • The student that informed us that hackers are BAD. Clearly she is getting some early web safety training somewhere. This was a great opportunity to break down what “to hack” means and how it can sometimes be used for good (as in our example of Ying Cracker, the Chinese hacker who helps people protect their data).
  • 30-second dance party as we discussed Shakira’s participation in Hour of Code.
  • The student who used the foil wrapper from the candy we handed out as conductive material in her circuit. Very clever!

At the end of the evening, the students took home UT Dallas folders that included handouts to help parents understand what we worked on and further resources in case the girls wanted to build on our very basic introduction.

Included here are the slides we used in keynote (35MB) and .pdf (25MB) form. They are licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.

Thanks so much to our fantastic Fashioning Circuits volunteers: Lauren, Laura, Lisa, and Patti! Thanks also to the UTD A&H Grad Student Association who provided us with folders left over from their conference!