Saturday, November 07, 2015

National Girls Learning Code Day

Today is National Girls Learning Code Day. My young daughter and over 1200 other girls across Canada spent today learning how to code. The goal of the event is to help show girls that coding is accessible, useful, and even fun.

We participated in an event for 8-13 year old girls hosted by Ladies Learning Code and Google at Telus' Toronto headquarters. Volunteers working in a wide range of jobs in digital media spent the day instructing and mentoring our crowd of 60 girls on how to code their own website.

Before attending this event, I figured they'd show us how to use WYSIWYG editors to build a website - but as the name of this event stated, it's definitely code the girls got their hands dirty with today! The instructors taught the basics of HTML and CSS with the help of Mozilla's free online code editor Thimble.

My daughter does have her own blog and YouTube channel, but hasn't actually done any coding before. She loves frontend digital media, but I was worried that the nitty gritty of writing lines of code (and moreover debugging the inevitable problems) was get wearisome for her.

The instructors lead the girls through the basics to get a website up and progressed fast enough to keep interest up. The instructors also shared some great online resources such as a hexadecimal colour picker and CSS code snippets to make customizing the look and feel of the website easier.

There were volunteer mentors on hand to help us out whenever we got stuck. It was great to see so many accomplished women sharing their knowledge and love for tech with girls - they were really helpful and inspirational for my daughter. I wish there were more events like this to connect girls with women working in technology.

Before we attended the event, I talked to my daughter about what she might want to build a website about. One of her ideas was humourous cat videos. As the Internet is powered by cat videos, I figured this was a perfect topic for her first website. The other girls present made websites on hedgehogs, dolls, cookie stores, germs, pet store, toys, fashion, etc. It was great that girls could focus on their interests in a judgement-free zone (note, yes boys do ruin the fun some times).

The goal of this session was to learn a variety of HTML and CSS codes - so the final website is a hodgepodge of hand-coded techniques. Perfect for a collection of Super Silly Cat Videos!

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