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Port Discover to offer 'Girls Who Code' club

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By Cindy Beamon
Albemarle Life Editor

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Port Discover is starting a new club for middle and high school girls only, designed to encourage them to enter technology-related fields

An information meeting for the "Girls Who Code" club is set for Monday at 6 p.m. to answer questions for girls, grades 6 to 12, who may be interested in attending. Parents are also invited to attend the meeting in Port Discover's upstairs STEM lab at 611 E. Main St.

Port Discover science educator Lonisha Whidbee said the club is part of an international program started in 2012 by Reshma Saujani to encourage girls to consider tech-related careers. The interactive headquarters offers online platforms, like Scratch and Khan Academy, that club members use to create and accomplish projects of their own choosing, said Whidbee.

The 15-week program will be led by Billie Jean Simmons, who will be graduating in December from Elizabeth City State University's computer science program. Whidbee will also be a facilitator.

The girls-only club eliminates one major concern girls often have when taking an technology class, said Whidbee. She noted that girls often ask before signing up for programs at Port Discover if any other girls will be there. The Girls Who Code Club offers that assurance.

Each "Girls Who Code" session spotlights a successful woman in the technology field. The club also teaches girls how to use code to build a website, create an app, or do whatever they want using technology. For one project at another location, girls created a digital art collection designed to help viewers see them as more than objects, Whidbee described.

At the end of the program, girls present their projects to the community and become eligible for "Hire Me," a program where participating companies hire club alumni for summer internships. Whidbee said the skills learned to program computers are similar to what coders use in the medical and insurance fields.

For additional information, contact Whidbee at lonisha@portdiscover.org.

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