WICS Students Launch Ambitious Outreach Project
The Women in Computer Science (WICS) group is launching Project HATCH 2012, a 15-week effort to introduce computer science concepts to Elementary, Middle, and High School students from local schools. WICS is partnering with Willamalane Parks & Recreation and Springfield Public Schools to offer after-school classes that teach students Scratch, a drag-and-drop programming language developed at MIT that is widely used for introducing programming to people of all ages.
The goals are to help young people feel empowered by technology, to open their minds to the innumerable applications of programming and computer science, and to encourage creativity, imagination, and fun! The project was designed with especial focus on providing early computer science exposure to young females, with hopes of improving the percentage of women studying computer science at the college level and beyond. According to the Computer Research Association, only 13.8% of computer science Bachelor's degrees were awarded to females in 2010 (United States and Canada).
The first day of Project HATCH 2012 was January 24. During the first week, after just a few hours of Scratch exploration, Middle School students were already comfortable with assignment, loops, conditionals, and other fundamental programming concepts. They were also delving into variables, sophisticated physics, collision detection, and elaborate storytelling. During the second week, Middle School students and WICS volunteers introduced Scratch to Elementary School students, providing leadership opportunities and even earlier exposure to programming.
Project HATCH needs more student volunteers! If you are interested in participating, contact Lara Letaw, the 2011-12 WICS President. This highly-rewarding opportunity is open to all UO CIS students. There is a for-credit option.
Project HATCH was created by Kiki Prottsman, visionary former leader of WICS and founder of Thinkersmith. WICS is a lively group of women, men, students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends who support the recruitment and retention of women and other underrepresented groups in computer science. Learn more about WICS and joining the WICS mailing list by visiting the WICS website.