Girl Scouts visit Purdue for computer science workshop

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Twenty Girl Scouts from across Indiana will visit Purdue’s Department of Computer Science on Saturday (Feb. 10) to explore computational thinking and computer programming. Purdue computer science majors will lead the girls in activities designed to teach them about some of the big ideas in programming using a mixture of hands-on activities and microprocessors. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Lawson Computer Science Building (rooms 1142, B146, B148 and B158).

Participants will send messages to each other using Morse code, use microprocessors to create a virtual pet they can interact with and create a sun catcher designed to teach them about inputs and outputs in programming. The activities will include new computer science curriculum by the Girl Scouts of the USA.

“Research shows that girls are turned off from pursuing math and science careers after middle school. But middle school girls are more likely to be interested in computing if they have had computing experiences, if they see computing as ‘cool,’ or if they have had an inspiring teacher,” said Phil Sands, K-12 outreach coordinator in the Department of Computer Science. “Our goal is to provide positive experiences with technology to show them that computer science can be fun. When they learn programming with the hands-on devices we use in our events, we hope to impact their perceptions of computing in a positive way.

K-12 outreach is just one way Purdue is trying to inspire girls to study computer science. Programs designed for incoming freshmen, such as Bridge and CS 180 Black and Gold, give incoming students who might not have much coding experience the confidence they need to succeed in computer science. Currently, 21 percent of freshmen studying computer science at Purdue are female, compared to just 13 percent in 2015. 

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