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STEM education in Southern Virginia recently got a boost with the full-day Coders Experience event held at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) in South Boston, Va. More than 950 middle-school girls registered to participate in 10 free events across Virginia in October sponsored by Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Karen Jackson, and powered by Capital One. At each event, girls in grades 6, 7, and 8 were introduced to problem-solving, teamwork and basic principles of software development. After instruction, teams of students used MIT App Inventor to create their own mobile application.
Nearly 110 middle school girls attended the Coders Experience at SVHEC on October 21, making it the largest of the 10 events. More than 500 volunteers from Capital One participated across Virginia serving as instructors and mentors for participants at the Coders Experience.
“Coders Experience is an extension of our C1 Coders program which partners with schools and community leaders to foster an interest in software engineering in middle school girls and boys,” said Pallavi Bokkisam, Senior Manager in Software Engineering at Capital One and South Boston Site Lead for Coders Experience. “Capital One supports this work through our Future Edge initiative which is providing $150 million in community grants over five years to prepare more people to succeed in a digitally-driven economy.”
“We’re grateful to Capital One for bringing this high quality, hands-on Coders Experience to students in Southern Virginia. Information technology is a growing field in this region, and software engineering is a great option for students to consider,” said Amy Cole, SVHEC Director of Student and Partner Advancement. “Opportunities like this are invaluable because they expose students to possibilities that they may not have known existed. Most students already love computers, cellphones, and living on-line, and we hope the ones who participated in the Coders Experience will now think about how to develop software content as well as use it,” she continued.
At the end of the day, teams presented their apps to a panel of judges. The judges were Amy Cole, Robin Mardre-Garrett, (SVHEC HR and Operations Manager) and Linda Green, (Executive Director of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance). The top three teams and their parents received a free trip to the Women in Technology Experience in Richmond on November 15th. Coders Experience participants received a gift bag with a tablet and other gifts.
“The feedback from the Coders Experience has been amazing. Several parents have commented that their daughters were so excited they went home and started designing their next app. Maybe the next million-dollar app will be developed by a young woman who got her start at the Coders Experience,” Cole said.