Girls Who Code

An interview with Ayana Leelasena ’18 and Riley Kaufman ’18
What is Girls Who Code? What excites you about the program?
The mission behind Girls Who Code is to close the gender gap in technology and unite girls all over the country by their passion to use technology to solve problems in their day-to-day lives and make a positive impact on the world. The club at Kent Place introduces the basics and fundamentals of computer science through the Girls Who Code curriculum. It’s facilitated by a Girls Who Code instructor, Catherine Kordova, and we’re the club leaders. The club is open to students in grades 6 to 12. It’s an exceptional opportunity and exciting news for all girls with an interest in coding. We’re really excited about bringing coding to the greater community.
Why did you decide to make this your Genius project?
We’ve both done computer science classes at school but noticed that the numbers of people in our classes have been small; they didn’t fit in people’s schedules, and people didn’t want to make an academic commitment. Other than robotics, which has a component of computer science, we were missing a computer science club at Kent Place. We talked to our computer science teacher, Mrs. Bianco, about creating one. We found Girls Who Code through Mrs. Pearson and realized that bringing the amazing tool of code to more people was something we were both very excited about. Genius Block gave us the time to plan our meetings and organize ways to get the greater community involved with coding.
How has this enhanced your interest in coding?
Each meeting we do a Women in Spotlight segment to show a woman who has excelled in a computer science field. This inspires all of us to see how computer science could be a career. In addition, teaching coding to others enables us to reinforce and expand our own knowledge.
What leadership skills have you gained from this experience?
Running this club requires a lot of responsibility and time dedication. We learned how to manage our time efficiently to make the best out of each meeting. In club meetings, we learned how to facilitate discussion and communication, making sure everyone’s voice is heard. As leaders of the club, it’s important to keep a positive attitude, and we believe we’ve been successful in making a hard topic enjoyable and fun to learn.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your experience?
The most rewarding part is seeing our members get excited about coding whether by figuring out an activity set or seeing a new career path. Also, every member is making a CS Impact Project. Girls will build a tool or product that celebrates, brings attention to, or improves an aspect of their community. We chose the theme “Women's Rights/Gender Equality” for our chapter’s CS Impact Project. Each girl will choose a subtopic and create either a website, an app or a Scratch project relating to her topic. We can’t wait until we finish our projects and are able to share them. Using computer science to create a difference in our community is going to be really rewarding.
Kent Place School is an all-girls K through 12 independent college preparatory day school with a coeducational Preschool, located in Summit, NJ.