Talk about disruptive innovation. Amazing things happen when girls take the lead. From June 15th through July 30th 2015 eBay hosted 12 girls and 2 boys in its Girls in Technology (GIT) program, which was sponsored by eBay Women In Technology (eWIT). The students ranged in age from 7 to 13 years old.
The students and the volunteer instructors.
I attended the closing ceremony on July 30 where each student presented one or two of the many programming projects they had all created with SCRATCH during the Program. The SCRATCH projects were interesting, fun, creative, and showed what can happen when students are challenged.
I saw beautiful dancing girls moving in time to each other and to the music. There were calculator demos, each with a colorful and ornamented user interface. I also saw animated stories, some with a combination of background music, dialog , moon landings, or explosions.
A round of applause for an excellent presentation.
The organizers, Sonia Miglani and Ishita Majumdar, did an amazing job of keeping everyone on track. She and the volunteer instructors (Nicklesh Madoori, Anju Vasta, and Nagamani Velyutha) and the parents cheered the students on as each one stood in front of the room and introduced themselves, described their work and experience during the program, and showed their demos. Can you imagine students as young as 7 years old giving a presentation and a demo to a room full of people?
Students anxiously waiting to give their presentations and demos.
I bet you are wondering how 2 boys ended up in this Program. This is how volunteer instructor, Nicklesh Madoori, explained it: There were some last-minute back-outs, and the boys were readily available. One boy was a sibling of one of the girls in the program.
The projects required programming skills, which none of the students had at the beginning. The students started out slowly when it came to learning SCRATCH, but they picked it up quickly. Towards the end of the Program, a few of the students had started writing HTML and Python code. Excellent career skills for anyone!
All 3 of the instructor volunteers were present in person on all days of the Program. They took turns watching the students on breaks, teaching them, and answering their questions. Overall, the format was very informal where all of the students and volunteer instructors were interacting in both group and individual settings.
Everyone visited eBay’s site engineering center (SEC). One of the students mentioned that it looked like the NASA station. Everyone was curious about what all of the monitors are used for.
Just goes to show that when something great starts, others want to join in too. Sometimes the best leadership happens by inspiration and example. That’s girl-power in action.
Vaishali Madoori Interview
I was able to speak in person with Vaishali Madoori, the daughter of volunteer instructor Nicklesh Madoori. Vaishali worked on over 15 projects during the Program that involved various SCRATCH features such as animation, sound, videos, pictures and games. Her most recent favorite that she demoed for the closing ceremony is the animation with girls singing and dancing on ice.
Vaishali Madoori presents to the group while volunteer instructor, Nicklesh Madoori, connects and monitors the students’ laptops for their presentations.
Q: Describe the project that you demoed for the closing ceremony:
A: The dancing girls are cartoon figures. I found the gifs for the cartoon characters and turned them into an animation. I added 79 constantly changing backgrounds and then music. I created the audio separately from the visual, and synchronized them so they worked together.
Q: How old are you and what grade are you in school?
A: Age 9 and going into 4th grade in the fall.
Q: Have you ever done any programming before you participated in GIT?
A: I did programming in a class at school. Mondays and Fridays in school Mr. Johnson takes students to his classroom and we start doing projects on computers. Mr. Johnson taught us how to type, how to use the mouse, how to use the mouse to do drag and drop, and we played some games to improve our mouse using and keyboard skills. This program is a default opt-in with voluntary drop out okay.
Q: How did you get interested in GIT?
A: Dad told me about it, and I really wanted to go because I like computers. At home, I have dad’s old Lenovo laptop.
Q: How did you think up your projects?
A: I always wanted to play around on my computer. And I decided to look at a couple of pictures. I decided maybe I should do one about a cartoon. I found a gif and used it. I wanted to make them dance on ice, and then add in the music. The project idea developed as I worked on it.
Q: What do you want to do next?
A: Keep working on the girls dancing one. The one for GIT showed they are dancing on the ice, but later I will make it so they dance and jump and spin around.
Q: Do you have any ideas about what kind of career you would want?
A: Don’t know yet. I like programming but I might not want to be a programmer.
Q: What do you like to do?
A: Drawing and playing with a race car app. I just started the app, and I’m at level 3 now. Each level has about 18 sublevels.
Q: What did you like most about the GIT program?
A: I liked:
- Making games
- Working on a computer
- Making new friends and having fun.
- Going to SEC. Looked like a place in the middle of a rocket ship.
I would like to do it again and will come back next year to have fun. Making silly animations is fun. I was helping Greg with fighting monsters. Steve is fighting the zombies.
Q: What do you like to study in school?
A: Three favorite subjects: math, science, and art.