SCRANTON — Abington Heights Middle School student Leanna Sciabbarrasi got her start in coding through a class she took on the subject.
The fun she had in that class, in which she learned a program called Scratch, made her more interested in the tech field.
The seventh-grader was just one of about 35 female students who attended the “You Can Code!” event, sponsored by the Scranton Girls Who Code, on March 5 at The University of Scranton.
The students learned basic computer coding techniques from a program called The Hour of Code, which features learning through puzzles and games.
“I think it’s cool that I can create something and be able to show it to the world,” said Sciabbarrasi.
Bill Miller, a sponsor of Scranton Girls Who Code, worked with Marisa Barilka, lead instructor of the organization and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) teacher of Abington Heights Middle School for the event.
Miller and Barilka wanted girls in Northeastern Pennsylvania as well as Miller’s daughter, who is currently 3 years old, to try coding while they’re young so that they might pursue a career in the field.
They coordinated with TechGirlz, an organization from Philadelphia that gives middle school girls hands-on experience with technology, to organize the workshop.
“There are three things that are needed: the classroom, the students, and the support,” said Miller.
Isabel Hou, president of Scranton Girls Who Code, and other members were also in the workshop to assist the girls with coding.
“Coding is the future,” said Hou, an eighth grade home-schooled student from Clarks Summit. “Only a few girls are in the business. It should be equal to men or more.”
Olivia Hancock, an eighth grade Abington Heights student, and Maggie Mills, a seventh-grader at Our Lady of Peace, were both informed about coding by their mothers. Once they both gave coding a try, they thought it was fun.
Miller and Barilka modeled the workshop after what employees of tech companies like Google experience, including free refreshments like fruit, cookies and pizza. Local automotive website design company Net Driven provided breakfast and “swag bags” for the girls.
Barilka said the workshop is a starting point of sparking girls’ interest in coding.
“There’s going to be millions of jobs not being filled out,” she said. “We like to get the children interested and excited about technology jobs because there will be a lot of jobs that will needed to be filled in the technology field in this country and other countries. We try to get them computer literate.”