The College of Computing recently hosted an event for Black Girls Code (BGC), a non-profit organization centered on providing technology training to African-American girls ages 7 to 17.
A team of BGC professionals and volunteers led the Atlanta Chapter’s Robot Expo, which took place on October 22 in the Klaus building. GT Computing Academic Program Coordinator Annette Clifford and student assistants from the Outreach, Engagement, and Community Program were on-hand to provide technical expertise and instruction for the participants.
After a brief introduction on the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and diversity, the girls divided into groups by age and met in respective lecture halls for guided technology workshops.
"...there is something lovely and powerful about the moment that lightbulb goes off and they discover an answer themselves..."
Each of the 120 girls enjoyed a hands-on experience with user-friendly LEGO robots. The four groups were taught different curriculums, varying in difficulty, but all fostered direct applications through the assembling and programming of the robots while instructors and teaching assistants provided supervision and one-on-one support.
“With activities like this, sometimes the trick is just letting them work through it. The girls will ask a lot of questions during the builds,” said Sarah Oso, a teaching assistant currently enrolled at Georgia Tech. ”But there is something lovely and powerful about the moment that lightbulb goes off and they discover an answer themselves – it’s part of the learning process, and that’s what they take home with them. I like getting to see that.”
Throughout the workshops, the girls learned troubleshooting, revision, and creativity. A few of the girls presented their projects to parents after the last instructional session, showing off their spinning, motion-detecting robots, or their talking, chomping LEGO alligators.
Programs such as Black Girls Code aim to lift underrepresented demographics within the technology industry and offer a number of opportunities for youth enrichment through outreach events. Black Girls Code has been growing rapidly since its founding by Kimberly Bryant in 2011. It currently serves more than 7,000 girls in 11 locations in the U.S. There is also a local chapter in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Upcoming GT Computing Workshops for Kids
Georgia Tech’s College of Computing also directs and hosts many similar workshops, including:
- “Minecraft: LearnToMod” for grades three through six, November 6
- “Computer Generated Music” for grades six through nine, November 6
- “Artbotics: LEGO NXT Holiday Art” an all-girl workshop for grades five through eight, December 10
- “LEGO NXT Robot Races” for grades five through eight, December 10
- "BeeBots and Holiday Art" for grades K through two, December 10
For more information contact Annette Clifford at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (404) 385-4029.