What did you do for your Gold Award project?
I developed and implemented a program to teach computer science to 4th grade girls. I ran my program (one day a week for four weeks) at Willow Creek Elementary School in the spring of 2017. Nine girls attended my program and I taught them Processing (a basic programming language) along with the general foundational concepts of computer science. Statistics show that there are very few women as compared to men in STEM careers, but this imbalance is especially evident in computer science. Survey data from 2011 indicates that only 18% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science were earned by women compared to 42% in mathematics and statistics. (https://www.ncwit.org/infographic/3435 ). In order to combat this issue, I wanted to introduce elementary school girls to computer science early, show them that computer science can be fun, and encourage them to pursue it in the future.
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
The most important goal for my project was to make sure that the girls had fun. I know that I succeeded in this goal because all of the girls were asking me to come back and teach them again next year. In addition, I received emails from parents who thanked me for running the program, wished they had been able to participate in a similar program when they were younger, and let me know that they really thought that this workshop was meaningful. Next year, I will help in implementing the program again with the Cherry Creek High School Tech Club. Since Willow Creek Elementary feeds into Cherry Creek High School, the Tech Club will also keep track of the number of girls in the various computer classes at Cherry Creek High School to track the lasting impact of the project.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
I was happy to have received a letter of commitment from the Cherry Creek High School Tech Club and club’s advisor, which stated that the Tech Club will continue to teach this program to elementary school girls at Willow Creek in the future. The club as also been given copies of all of the materials I created, in addition to a teacher’s manual that I wrote, in order to continue the project. Next spring, the Tech Club will run the program and though I will not be leading the project again, I will be involved to help keep the project running. I reached out to other high schools about getting this project running at their local elementary schools. This year, students at Grandview High School are running my program at Liberty Middle School, which is a big step in getting more girls involved in computer science especially within the district.
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
I created a webpage, hosted by the Cherry Creek High School Tech Club, which describes my project and hosts all of my materials. The webpage provides information on how to run the project so that anyone can start up this program with their local elementary school. The materials are shared under the Project Blastoff tab at http://www.cchs.tech/project-blastoff/. I also posted this information in the NCWIT (National Center for Women in Information Technology) Aspirations in Computing Facebook group. NCWIT is a national organization for women in computer science. Members of the group include high school winners of the Aspirations in Computing Award. Their Facebook page is the perfect place to share this information with other girls who can make a difference and run this program at their local school. I have contacted local high schools and encouraged them to get their individual technology related clubs interested in running my program at their feeder elementary or middle schools. This year, Grandview High School will be hosting my program at Liberty Middle School, which was exciting news!
What did you learn about yourself?
One important realization I came to after participating in this project is that I really I enjoy teaching. I want to study cybersecurity in college, but I have also been thinking about eventually working in computer science education. Right now, I am not planning on becoming a teacher immediately after college, but now I know that I enjoy teaching and I may decide to teach in the future. In addition to discovering a fondness for teaching, I have also developed my presentation skills during this project. I am a more confident and I have become a better public speaker as a result of completing my Gold Award. I learned that when I practice my presentations over and over again out loud, I get better and I do not trip over my own words as frequently. Most importantly, I learned that anyone can make a difference, no matter how small the action may appear at the time. Even though I only taught computer science to nine girls, I feel that I made a difference in their lives. I have introduced them to computer science, encouraged them to continue studying it, and helped them visualize it as possibility for their future.
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
This project gave me a huge opportunity to pursue my passions and develop my leadership skills. I had more fun than I anticipated in developing the materials and presenting them to the students. The project also put me in a position to lead other Tech Club members in the delivery of the classes. I had to convey my vision to them and keep them working toward that vision. This experience will give me confidence whenever I am in the position of leading peers in the future.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
My Gold Award was the most important part of Girl Scouting for me because it pushed me do something bigger. Nowhere else in Girl Scouts can you do something that has such a big an impact on the community. Being able to complete a project on my own that had an impact on others made my project one of the most important things I have done in Girl Scouting. With my Gold Award, I was able to teach something I really care about and get these girls excited about computer science.
How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
Earning my Gold Award helped me become an innovator. To run my workshops, I wrote all of my own course materials and created my own webpage. None of the materials I needed existed already so I had to create them. I think this was a really important experience because it allowed me to design a project that I was really interested in. The work was really worth it because I was able to make my project exactly what I envisioned. Being an innovator during your Gold Award is important because it gives you the freedom to make your Gold Award your own.
**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication, and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org