In honor of International Girls in ICT Day Thursday, the YWCA of the U.S. Virgin Islands hosted a “Coding Party” using MIT’s Scratch program at the St. Andrew’s Church Public Computer Center on St. Thomas. YWCA USVI President Donnalie Edwards-Cabey opened the program with an introduction of Instructor/Coordinator Rebecca Hoffart, who provided guidance on the projects. Some students chose to manage a virtual fashion house, while others opted to program in gaming or social interactive environments.
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Scratch uses “snippets” of code represented by colored blocks which users can manipulate to achieve a preferred outcome. The placement, sequence and conditional statements of the programmer determine an infinite variety of results. As a matter of fact, we all use programming in our everyday lives without even knowing it – “I will go to Store A to buy apples, but if there are no apples there, I will go to Store B to buy apples” is an example of an “If/Else” statement.
Towards the end, Rebecca Hoffart asked each of the students to consider how their actions determined their results, from time spent on the instructional materials, to personal preferences. She asked them to think about what they could have done differently to get different results. The students were also asked to consider how their own talents and strengths could lead them to using the programs they chose to achieve goals and careers that would be different from those of their fellow students.
It was an enlightening session shared with our future programmers, entrepreneurs and creators, giving the students the chance to work independently and then contrast and compare their experiences. “This is only the beginning,” said YWCA’s Donnalie Cabey-Edwards. “Teaching children to code is critical in today’s world.”
International Girls in ICT Day is held annually in an effort to encourage greater participation by girls and young women in the field of Information and Communications Technology, enhance their intellectual development, and provide career guidance and support. Visit http://girlsinict.org/ for more information and resources for planning your own activity!