Teaching girls computer science at CodeEd

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I was a mentor for a recent course run by CodeEd in San Francisco. From their site:

CodeEd teaches computer science to middle school girls from underserved communities in NYC and the San Francisco Bay Area. We partner with schools and programs serving low-income families and provide them with volunteer teachers, computer science course offerings, and computers.

It was a little different to the kind of mentoring I'm used to - I've worked with quite a few adults learning to code, but mentoring 11-13 year old girls was a new experience.

They were all complete beginners, learning their first few bits of HTML and CSS. We used Neocities, and the structure was a couple of hours of intro lecture covering the basics of how web pages work, and then each girl was given a laptop to use to build their first website. They could pick what it would be about.

I worked with two girls, one building a site about cupcakes, and the other about Black Lives Matter activism. It was really inspiring watching them choose topics they were passionate about, and use their new skills create real pages on the internet, that they could then share with anyone, and carry on working on afterwards if they were keen.

It's hard get someone inspired about what kind of things you can use technology for (and how it's relevant to everyone) in just a couple of sessions, but I think CodeEd is a great start.