This is first in series of articles written by our student digital leaders.
Recently, a group of girls from Year 8 and 9 got offered a chance to participate in a coding course at the American Express Community Stadium and Offices. Over the span of five weeks, the girls travelled to the course every Thursday to have a go at a different exciting activity to do with code.
The project was run by American Express, aimed to introduce girls to the wonderful world of code and technology, and throughout the course the girls experimented with all kinds of things.
The first week involved travelling to the Amex Community Stadium where the girls focused on the code used in websites (HTML and CSS). After a tour of the stadium involving a QR code hunt showing the stages of building a website, they learnt about how a website is composed and the different elements inside one. They were then let loose on the internet, determined to change their favourite websites. In the end, they changed Facebook to make it pink and deleted the whole of Google..... temporarily.
On the second week, the girls went back to the Amex Stadium. This week, they were taught about the physical components of a computer by dismantling a computer's system unit. In small groups, the girls raced to take apart these boxes, all the while learning about what each part did and what it was called. After a detailed talk about each component, they had their next challenge: putting it back together, which proved trickier than first thought…
The next week involved travelling to the Amex offices in Brighton where the group learned about UX or User Experience. This is the involvement between the user and the computer application or website, for example how easy it is to navigate or how it looks. The girls were given a tour of the call centre then a brief introduction to UX. Finally, they had the chance to design their own supermarket website design and discuss improvements that could be made.
Week four was back at the Stadium, where the Amex staff had prepared something very special for the girls. Awaiting them was a chance to film and edit their own music video! Local singer-songwriter Chris Simmons let the girls film him singing one of his songs using professional cameras and tracks. Then they cut and edited the footage and showed it to Chris, who picked his favourite. It was definitely a unique experience.
The last week brought together all of the previous events in a "Careers Fair" at the Burgess Hill offices. At each table in the room was a different job in IT, represented by two people who had that career. The girls got a small insight into what the job was by trying out small 15-minute activities from "programming" their friends to finding and fixing flaws in a website. It gave the group an idea of where technology could take them in the future and was a perfect way to end the course.
From the whole experience, the group learned about a wide range of tech, software and careers to help them in later life. It also showed them that code is all around us and is certainly not gender specific. Also, thanks to all the Amex staff, it was great fun for all involved.
Author Rosie Day