DigiGirlz camp LA for 2009

Microsoft's DigiGirlz program

We hosted our first-ever DigiGirlz hi-tech camp for high-school aged girls at New Horizons, Culver City, (LA) CA last week (We have hosted previous events in SoCal in Irvine, CA  and in San Diego, CA).  DigiGirlz is a global program of annual, free events – supported by Microsoft.  In SoCal we also have extensive community participation in addition to Microsoft’s support. 

Photo of custom DigiGirlz participant certificate:

Custom Digigirlz certificate

35 girls participated in activities over two days which included hands on classes (which we developed), demos of cool technologies (Kodu, World-Wide Telescope, Lego Mindstorms etc…), discussion groups with technical professionals and more.  For links to the courses, which included ‘Intro to Programming using SmallBasic, ‘Creating a Video Player in Expression Blend3’ and more, see my previous blog entry on past Digigirlz events in 2009.

The focus and goal of the program is to give girls information (and motivation) around careers which involve technology.  Although I could write a really long blog post with detailed information about each aspect of the agenda, I do think that pictures speak volumes. 

Here’s me demonstrating Windows 7 multi touch applications on my laptop.  My challenge to the girls was ‘what multi touch applications will you create?’

Me showing the Digigirlz Windows 7 multi touch

Thanks to photographers, Wm. Marc Salsberry (he took the picture above), Jim (TechFrog) Alden (check out his DigiGirlz photo set on Flickr!) and Anna Webber for capturing the event.

While I am thanking people, local developer, Kim Schmidt took complete charge of organizing the event (during my trip to Africa), simply this event would not have happened without her.  We had more than 25 volunteers in total:

From Microsoft – Cindy Palmer, Mary Jane Perez, Linda Routson, Curtis Wong, Avelina Serna
Community – Gina Johnston, Robyn Cohen, Marsha Collier, Heather Meaker, Heather Vescent, Cigdem Patlak, Thomas Mueller, Alexandra Mokh, Akiko Ashley, Mary-Margaret Walker, Leila Curic, Babette Pepaj and more!

More fun photos

From Kim Schmidt – Girls participating in SongSmith competition

SongSmith competition

DigiGirl taking notes during one of the speaker’s presentations

DigiGirl taking notes

DigiGirlz events are one my favorite things to do at Microsoft.  In addition to watching two girls who were completely new to programming challenge each other at the end of the first day of camp to create the coolest program in SmallBasic  (after the intro class) and much more, I got extremely positive feedback from participants. 

Also after every DigiGirlz event that I’ve ever participated in I ALWAYS get at least one letter like the one below (which I received today). 

"Dear DigiGirlz team,

Thank you so much for putting on DigiGirlz. I've learned so much these past two days! I've already started reading your (Lynn's) book, and will start playing around with SQL Server as soon as I am verified as a student (and can download SQL Server via DreamSpark). The first thing I am going to do is to make a database for my clothes!

Lauren (Berger) has inspired me to start working as an intern and I've contacted Alex (GirlGamer) about an internship at her company. The DigiGirlz experience was truly amazing, and I hope your team continues inspiring girls as you all have inspired me."

Comments (3)

  1. Larry says:

    Great program.  Thanks for helping the next generation.  You should challenge Glen or Matt to start a DigiBoyz program.

  2. lynnlangit says:

    Actually we are kicking around the idea of TeachCamp both K-12 kids.  Kind of like of CodeCamp (i.e. held on a weekend at a university), filled with geeks teaching kids.

    Your thoughts?

  3. Larry says:

    I think it’s a great idea.

    You’d probably want to divide the kids by experience (not necessarily age).  That way, the experienced kids wouldn’t get bored and the less experienced stifled. Do something similar to MCP exams, only free, fast, and toned down, with a slick name like Future Coders (ok, that’s not slick, but you get the idea).  Progress through ranks not only gives them some clout, but will give them a learning path.  Make higher ranks teach to enforce their learning. (Some High Schools require community service hours, so maybe you could work it in with coding for SmartCare, Mona, or other organizations)

    Make the agenda generic since there are crystalline weenies out there that won’t go near anything with ‘Microsoft’ in it.  Remembering that, some of them are worth saving since one day they may have to write a real production system.

    To attract Universities, you’d want to explain these are their future students (aka customers).  Keep stats on the older students so you can tell them X% enrolled in your University after attending a Camp session.  Competition for enrollment is becoming fiercer as the economy sags, they should snap on any hook you throw them.  (Of course, train your graduates to organize when they get to the Universities)

    There is too much to say on the subject.  Probably the toughest thing is finding a name with an available domain name.

    Sounds like a big project you could do in your copious spare time 😉

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