Girls coding and robotics club encourages scientists of tomorrow

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WATCH ABOVE: U of S camp encourages future scientists to push past limitations and see their potential – Oct 29, 2019

A University of Saskatchewan (U of S) Sci-Fi camp is teaching young girls how to code.

The three-week program is free for girls in Grade 5 and up, and teaches coding in a hands-on way. They’re taught by female U of S students.

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“It’s taught for girls because females tend to be underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and digital technology fields,” Sci-Fi Science Camps director Maureen Bourke said.

The girls share a love of science and feel encouraged being around others who are like-minded.

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“Being around other people who share the same interests is like being with new friends. Sisters, almost,” 12-year-old participant Jocelyn Thiessen said.

The camp is currently broken down into two groups, based on the amount of experience the girls have with coding. One group is working with mini-robots called Ozobots. By entering the coding into an iPad, they are able to upload information in the Ozobot needed for it to move. The more experienced group is learning how to code their own apps.

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The national STEM outreach organization representing Sci-Fi, Actua, received $12 million in CanCode funding from the federal government in July 2019. Through these funds, the camp is able to run for free and reach girls of all backgrounds. Sci-Fi reaches out to schools, so teachers can encourage girls interested in science to participate in the camp.

Sci-Fi Camps hope to stay connected with the girls as they complete grade school. Some of the lessons learned go beyond science and coding.

“When you’re doing coding and robotics, making mistakes are almost more important than the project itself because you learn the million ways not to do something. So this sort of teaches resiliency as well,” Bourke said.

The next camp will run at the end of January.