Program Teaching Girls to Code Starts Sept. 13

Code Girls United is a free program giving girls coding and computer literacy while building apps

By Molly Priddy
Marianne Smith explains plans for Montana Code Girls. Beacon File Photo

Code Girls United, a local program that teaches girls how to code, will start up again on Sept. 13.

Girls in fourth through eighth grade can participate in Code Girls United, which teaches the fundamentals of computer science and then builds on those foundations to move on to inventing real-world apps. The program is offered free of charge, though space is limited.

Code Girls started up in 2016 in Kalispell when Marianne Smith took the reins to expand the existing Montana Code Girls program in Missoula. The mission of the program is to empower girls’ interests in science, technology, engineering, and math, commonly abbreviated as STEM.

As technology continues to intertwine itself into our lives, knowing how to code is an essential skill for future job markets, Smith said. Most, if not all, of the jobs in the future will include some piece of technology, and Smith said young women need to be problem solvers steeped in business skills and computer literacy.

When the girls learn the basics of coding, taught through the App-Inventor tool, they break into teams and figure out real-world problems that need solving and get to it. They conduct market research, create a business plan, complete the development and design process, write the code for their app, and then present their app in a final demonstration.

The teams even go to competition; the local Kalispell team performed admirably at local, regional, and national app competitions, Smith said.

Code Girls United starts Sept. 13 and meets every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. until the end of November, picking back up in January. Code Girls is free, but space is limited. Visit www.codegirlsunited.org for more information on how to sign up.

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