Thanks to the dedication of many wonderful volunteers, TechGirlz is inspiring middle-school girls to consider themselves young technologists and explore the possibilities of working with technology to empower their future careers.
TechGirlz is a nonprofit organization operated by Creating IT Futures, CompTIA’s tech workforce charity. It offers free, fun, hands-on workshops for middle-school girls on topics ranging from game design to solving genetic mysteries.
These TechShopz In A Box™ workshops are led by volunteers, some of whom are high-school-age young women who also have benefited from the same mentoring and encouragement.
To recognize and thank three such students, we’ve recapped articles written by TechGirlz volunteers Alison Perch and Amy Freeman that profile Paige Burns, Halle Derry and Dhivya Arasappan, young women who have used their love of technology to encourage other girls.
Burns’ tech journey began when her parents encouraged her to take a coding class in eighth grade. “We learned HTML, CSS, and made our own websites. I enjoyed the project-based learning and the creative aspects of the class,” Burns says.
Since then, Burns has studied web-mastering, AP digital art, AP computer science, and data structures. Through these courses, she has become adept at photo-editing and Java programming, and she’s honed her problem-solving skills.
“My interest in technology has grown over time as I’ve been exposed to more challenging problems and new aspects of technology,” Burns explains.
Burns first learned about TechGirlz as a youth representative at the Women In Tech Summit. After connecting with the TechGirlz leadership team, she applied for and was selected for a position on the Teen Advisory Board. She assisted with two Denver-based TechShopz before running her own at the Lafayette Public Library.
The TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board consists of teenagers across the United States who share their expertise and recommendations with the organization. They meet in person and virtually to exchange ideas and lead TechShopz in their hometowns.
“At first, I was really nervous to run my own workshop with TechGirlz, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to explain the technology concepts as well as I should’ve. But what I learned was that, as I continue to teach these workshops, I will continue to learn more about technology. There have been some moments in my workshops where I finally understand a certain concept better after explaining it to the workshop participants,” Burns says.
In addition to volunteering with TechGirlz during the school year, Burns ran her own TechGirlz Arduino Programming Camp last summer. She applied for a grant to fund the camp and secured Innovation Center of St. Vrain as a partner organization. Burns was selected as an Aspire IT leader and awarded a $2,000 grant from the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT).
Burns was responsible for every aspect of the camp, including marketing, building an implementation team, training teaching assistants, securing speakers, and developing curriculum in collaboration with TechGirlz.
Thanks to Burns’ efforts, 20 campers learned how to assemble and code an Arduino robot. Speakers from NASA, Adams 12 and the Innovation Center also shared their expertise. The participants worked in teams to determine how their robots might solve a problem in their communities. Campers created slideshows and presented their ideas, which helped them develop team-building and public speaking skills.
Through her leadership, Burns learned the value of collaboration as well as the role technology plays in community engagement. Burns says she once thought technology was only about coding, but her classes and involvement with TechGirlz have broadened her perspective.
“I am supporting TechGirlz because their mission is to break the stigmas around technology so that more girls get involved in it. I think that it is so important to educate girls about all the possibilities of technology, because I once had many misconceptions about it that could’ve prevented me from doing all that I have done in the past years,” Burns stresses.
Related Posts from Creating IT Futures
- TechGirlz Update: How to Follow Up a Record-Breaking Year by Blazing New Trails (podcast)
- Recent TechShopz In A Box™ Workshops from TechGirlz Give High School Girls a Chance to Lead, Middle School Girls a Chance to Learn (blog post)
- TechGirlz creates cybersecurity warriors (blog post)
- What’s So Funny about Working as a Technologist? Our Podcast Goes into the Field to Find Out (podcast)
- Creating IT Futures Acquires TechGirlz to Inspire Middle-School Girls in Tech (blog post)