‘TechnoTeens’ aims to get girls involved in computing

When Srishti Pithadia, now a junior at Trumbull High School, took her first computer science class, she was in for a surprise. Even at the high school level, computer coding is very much a boys club.

“I was immediately struck by the fact that there were only three girls – myself included – in my class,” Srishti said. “I, along with the other girls in class, found programming to be completely and utterly captivating. It made me wonder why not many other girls felt the same way.”

The answer may be in the self-fulfilling prophecy of visualization, according to Library Director Stefan Lyhne-Nielsen.

“Some of the research, particularly when it comes to getting kids into science and technology, points to the fact that being able to visualize yourself doing something is the deciding factor,” Lyhne-Nielsen said. “If you can’t see yourself being a doctor, scientist or programmer, then you aren’t going to succeed. That’s why it’s important to bring in female IT people to show them, ‘Look, there is someone who looks like you that is doing it.’”

Seeing a need to bring more girls into technological fields, Srishti started TechnoTeens, an initiative in educating, introducing and inspiring more girls to pursue technology by teaching them computing concepts with fun, interactive activities. The effort is supported through a technology outreach program funded by Intel, Northrop Grumman and Google.

In conjunction with the Trumbull Library, TechnoTeens will teach the basics of the coding language Java and demonstrate other project-based activities in a fun and creative environment to help girls visualize the coding process through the aid of Scratch, and introduce girls to role models who are leaders in the field.

Girls in grades six through 12 interested in learning computer coding skills are welcome to join TechnoTeens at the Trumbull Library on Sundays from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The program starts Oct. 29 and runs for 12 consecutive weeks. Those signing up do not need computer experience, just enthusiasm and a willingness to try new things, Srishti said.

Girls attending the program should bring a laptop computer and charger. The library has a small supply of tablet computers available, but those who own their own computers are asked to bring them. Cost to attend is $5 per week. Register at the library’s circulation desk.