For the past two years, our mentorship program has put together two successful workshop series with monetary support from the Google igniteCS initiative. Our past workshops and this current one are meant to engage high school girls with concepts and activities in computing, so that they will be open to and interested in pursuing an enriching career in the tech field. This year, we plan on executing a similar, but improved iteration of workshops with a new group of students. We are aiming to target a partner school that is located in an underserved community so that we can truly spark new, young minds and spread awareness of what computer science is, how important it is, and how it can be used in a diverse range of fields.
To successfully engage and provide consistent support to students, 12 mentors will undergo training to prepare them for working with the workshop materials, teaching high school students, and communicating in an effective manner. Mentors will learn and practice the important skills of improvisation to articulate concepts in a brief, engaging, and understandable way. They will also go through the program materials themselves so that they are familiar with what they will be teaching to the mentees.
Our igniteCS program will consist of eight workshops for 30 high school students. There will be two workshops per week, each lasting two hours. We decided to use MIT’s Scratch to introduce coding concepts to the students. Using this online drag-and-drop coding environment has been a hit for the past workshops we have put together, because Scratch allows the user to code using commands that are understandable and similar to language-based coding. Scratch is also more visual, which will help students see the immediate effects of their coding. After Scratch, students will be introduced to our Makey Makey circuit boards, which allows different objects to act as input for software programs. These Makey Makey boards allow participants to get experience in engineering and working with hardware, and will be used for the girls to group up and work together in their teams to create their own project. The mentees will continue to work on their projects for the rest of the workshop, and in between we plan on bringing in guest speakers as well as teaching them some Python so that they can experience language-based coding. In the end, we will hold a closing showcase so that the girls can present their projects to friends and family, and receive awards for their hard work and accomplishments.