On Thursday 17 August, I had the opportunity to take four enthusiastic but inexperienced year 9 girls to a Programming 4 Girls Challenge at Deakin University in Burwood. Emily, Amy, Nicolette and Heather worked in teams of two in a competition to learn how to program using the Alice object-oriented, drag-and-drop programming environment developed at Carnegie Mellon University. More than ten other schools had sent teams to compete.
The girls were initially quite nervous, with little prior exposure to programming. However, within the first half hour they had programmed individual movements of some elephants in the animation – and by the end of the day had created their own short animations involving tigers, trampolines, birthday cakes and magic!
I congratulate the girls for embracing the opportunity to experience programming – they found it wasn’t as difficult as they had anticipated, and was a lot more fun!
Some comments from the girls:
“I really enjoyed the ‘programming 4 girls challenge’. At the start of the day, we were introduced to a program called ‘Alice’. We were given a lesson on how to use it and then we worked on the program for the day creating out own storyboard in pairs. I thought that the program was really good and I had a lot of fun throughout the day.” – Emily
“I found the experience challenging, but rewarding. I had never done programming before, and this was a great opportunity to learn something new. I am glad I gave it a go, and would do it again and I would encourage others to give it a go.” – Nicolette
“I had no experience with programming, and the program ‘Alice’ that we were taught to use was difficult at first but once you go the hang of it became easier. It was an interesting experience, and it has taught me a new skill.” – Amy