IIT Offers Middle-School Computer Discovery Camp for Girls

The demand for computer science professionals continues to grow, but the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities entering the field are not keeping pace. Addressing this, Illinois Institute of Technology will offer a two-week camp to help middle-school girls to learn about and enjoy computers.

The IIT Middle-School Computer Discovery Camp for Girls, sponsored by the IIT College of Science and Letters and the Office of Undergraduate Affairs will be held Mondays to Thursdays from 9 am – 2 pm, June 18 – 28, on IIT’s Main Campus. Vida Winans (CS MS ’90), senior instructor of computer science, will lead participants in a variety of hands-on activities to develop their interest and skills.

The first camp was held in the summer of 2010 and was funded by the “Broadening Participation in Computing” grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The camp is currently funded in part by generous donations of IIT alumni.

High-achieving, motivated girls who will enter grades 7 – 9 this fall and all returning students of any grade level are eligible. Students from populations underrepresented in computer science and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), including African-American, Hispanic and Native American students, are especially encouraged to apply. The cost for the Middle-School Computer Discovery Camp for Girls is $50 and need-based scholarships are available.

Learn more about the program and register here.

Students from last summer’s camp who were interested in learning more about computers and technology participated in a Saturday afternoon club which was also held at the Idea Shop on the IIT campus. The club met for 10 Saturday afternoons during the fall and spring semesters and focused on Lego Mindstorms, StarLogo TNG, and web page design.

According to NSF, STEM jobs will grow at twice the rate of the economy to 2018, with the largest growth in computer and mathematics occupations. Yet a recent American Association of University Women study entitled “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” noted, “women’s representation among computer science bachelor’s degrees is decreasing…in 1986, women earned one out of every three bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer science; by 2006, women’s share of computer science degrees had dropped to…one out of every five degrees awarded.”

Similarly, the numbers of African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in computer science continues to lag behind their numbers in the U.S. population.

The IIT Middle-School Computer Discovery Camp for Girls will engage girls in a variety of hands-on discovery activities using Lego Mindstorms and BYOB Scratch. They will use Lego Mindstorms to “build” robots which will help strengthen spatial skills and then program their robots to learn some basic programming skills. They also will use BYOB Scratch to learn to use basic programming skills. The activities will accommodate beginning students as well as returning students.

Contact Vida Winans at 312.567.5334 or winans@iit.edu with questions about the camp or to request a scholarship.