By Mina Corpuz
LEOMINSTER — Amelia Carboni wanted to learn about coding through her interest in computer games.
“When I’m older, I can make games I’m proud of or code to make them,” said the 9-year-old said as she played one as a bird that collected supplies to grow in size.
She is one of six girls who came to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Saturday to learn about the basics of computer science through Girls Who Code. The free program runs on weekends until the end of the school year and is meant for girls age 8 and older who are interested in a career in technology, web design, or coding. Some have been coming for a few weeks, while others started coming years ago.
The lesson of the day was using line code to draw snowmen.
Students made shapes like circles, set the dimensions for them, and colored in their figures. Instructor Josie Rivera has been teaching for the Girls Who Code program at the Boys & Girls Club for two years. On weekends and during the week, Rivera helps students learn how to work with different types of code and use programming languages like Python or Java. They also work on web design, graphic arts, and comic design. “I think it’s great that they’re learning something different,” she said. “Computer science is growing and it’s going to be important.” Rivera also helps the girls work on projects, like remakes of classic games such as “Pac-Man” and “Frogger,” or websites.
Before the day’s lesson, Tisiphone Hallet, 13, worked on a website that will accompany a YouTube channel she plans to launch to share her art. She has spent about three months designing it and deciding what kind of components go on it.
“I’ve always been interested in computers and wanted to learn more,” Hallet said. Hallet also likes that her work through Girls Who Code combines her interests of computers and art. Graphic art is one of the types of art she likes to make.
Jennifer Belfield, a senior at Fitchburg State University studying game design and computer science, is an instructor for the program through an internship. “I remember when I was young I didn’t get the experience of coding,” she said. “Had I earlier, I would have been excited. … I don’t want them to miss out on an exciting opportunity.”
The lessons offered through Girls Who Code are part of a nationwide effort to build a pipeline of female engineers and close the gender gap in computer science by 2027.
Girls Who Code has clubs at schools, summer courses, and programs around the country.