For SYDCON, programming isn't just what we do at the office; it's a passion that we want to share with the community. If you're a dedicated reader of this blog, you'll remember that, for the past two years, SYDCON has been at the GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math & Science) conference: first as an expo participant, and last year as a session host. We're happy to announce that SYDCON will be back at GEMS in January for another year of this great program.
What Is GEMS?
GEMS is a one-day conference for girls in the sixth to eighth grades attending school in the Community High School District 155 in McHenry County, Illinois. It helps young women explore interests and careers in the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math.
This is the third year of the program, and demand has skyrocketed: from 50 girls just two years ago, to 200 girls and more on the waitlist this year. Attendees can take part in hands-on activities for everything from robotics to healthcare and microbiology. It's truly amazing to see how many girls are excited to get up early on a Saturday morning to learn about science and technology.
SYDCON's Class at GEMS
Last year, SYDCON ran four separate 20-minute sessions teaching girls the basics of coding in HTML with the help of Codecademy. We picked HTML because if you want to build your own website — and who doesn't these days?—learning HTML is absolutely essential, but also easy enough for anyone to do.
This year, SYDCON will teach GEMS participants how to build their own Snapchat filter. We think Snapchat is a perfect point of entry for these students because it's an app that many of them already use in their day-to-day lives. No matter who you are, getting people interested in programming is all about making it more accessible and familiar.
Why Is GEMS Important?
With women still underrepresented in computer science — only 18 percent of CS college graduates were women in 2015 — programs like GEMS are crucial in helping foster an early interest in the field. It's not just important to educate girls, however. SYDCON believes that learning the basics of science and technology, including programming, is necessary for the next generation.
For example, artificial intelligence is helping doctors and business executives make better decisions, and it's even being used for crazy, futuristic applications like self-driving cars. But no matter who you are or what your occupation is, you rely on technology every day to get to and from work and to do your job better.
Not only do coding skills stand out on your resume when you're applying to colleges and jobs, they also help you think in new ways and better understand the world around you. What's more, the great thing about programming is that the barriers to entry are low for those who know how to get started. It's easier than ever to learn what you need to know online and in other environments outside school.
SYDCON believes that every child should have the opportunity to learn to code. That's why we'll be at GEMS next month, and why we hope to continue working with this great program into the future.
To learn more about SYDCON's work with the community to promote computer science education, click here to go to our community page to see our work.