YWCA Lethbridge teaches young girls how to code using robots

A group of young girls learned how to code using tablets and mini robots over the weekend at the University of Lethbridge. YWCA hosted the event, entitled 'Girls with Tools'. Global News

It was an exciting Saturday afternoon for a group of young ladies who learned how to code using mini robots.

YWCA Lethbridge & District, in partnership with Destination Exploration at the University of Lethbridge, hosted a “Girls with Tools” event.

A group of eight girls aged from eight to 10 learned how to code using “Sphero”, a baseball-sized robot.

The kids used tablets to control the movement, sounds and even the colour of the mini bots, according to Jordana Knelsen, a GirlSpace facilitator with YWCA Lethbridge, who runs the Girls with Tools program.

“Girl with Tools is an opportunity to teach young women and non-binary youth different life skills, and different STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] and trades,” Knelsen said.
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The exercise with the tablets allowed the girls to enter information into an app on their tablets, which translates to what Sphero does on the ground.

The girls used tablets to manipulate the speed, sound, and colour of the robotic spheres. Global News

The kids say they had fun moving the robots around in several different directions across the room they were working in.

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The facilitator said it’s the perfect way to learn coding: through hands-on experience. Knelsen also added that the coding experience is easy enough for those who have never coded before.

“There’s been a lot of research about how young girls are less inclined towards sciences and STEM activities than men are and over their time at grade school that drastically decreases,” Knelsen said.

“So what we hope to do is encourage them, that if this is something they’re interested in, there is a place for them in this environment and that they can do it.”

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Knelsen said there have been numerous times when the kids will come up to her and express how happy they are to learn things like coding with robots, and say things like, “That’s so cool, I had no idea I could do that!”

Knelsen added it’s very satisfying to see the girls gain confidence in an area like science, whether they are interested in it for long term or not.

“I love science, I love to build… and I love robotics,” said Zara Enayetullah, one of the girls who attended the event.

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