South San Francisco HS Kickoff Event with Microsoft

On April 24, 2018, we had an inspiring IGNITE Coding Kick Off event at South San Francisco High School! The girls started the day at the computers. We started off the event by soliciting feedback from the girls and enforcing the mission of Ignite. Tom from Microsoft then led the group to code patterns that a turtle sprite made in small BASIC.
We then moved into the table area to hear the panelists. They shared their history and their path to their current careers. We then broke for lunch and then got back together for questions to the panelists.

From the students’ surveys, the girls were evenly distributed in their preference for more time on the coding portion and more time on the panelists’ portion. During my observation during the coding session, I did change the agenda to allow more time for the panelists. I wanted to end the session with the girls wanting more time to code. Some girls were getting quite advance, creating their own shapes and one even spelling out her name. The visibility of the coding presentation was better for those in the front and somewhat difficult for those in the back. The volunteers were very helpful and proactive to help those that were struggling. I did pass out several “cheat-sheets” on this coding project to the volunteers and the students in the back to aid the lesson. Next time, I will be more prepared to have more sheets on hand. Tom did ask for the script to be loaded on each computer, which would have enabled the students to follow along better. The turtle program was a great choice and kept the students engaged.


Thank you to our Workshop Facilitator Extraordinaire, Tom Hall, Senior Delivery Project Manager at Microsoft. He traveled very far to be with the girls and it is because of him that so many girls were inspired to do more coding!

Thank you to Avanti Manker, Project Manager at Planet Labs, Olivia Ryu, Technical Program Manager at Planet Labs, and Julia Wulia, Software Engineer at Remix, and Kristy Headley, Operations Manager at Digital Assets for being our panelists. Your stories were amazing! They all had different personalities and a different journey to their current careers. The girls were so attentive during the discussion and I saw that they could relate to the panelists. Many students commented on wanting more time for questions . We had time for four questions. This speaks to how engaging the panelists were.

Thank you to Andrew Grosser, Giant Nerd at SF Growth Labs and Axel Schumacher, Spacecraft Engineer at Planet Labs for giving girls one-on-one tutor assistance as they learned to code for the first time. I’m so grateful for the generosity of all our volunteers who gave so freely of their time and the sharing of their experiences to inspire our students. They also brought along so much swag of foldables, stickers and pins. Fifteen students indicated a wish to take a Computer Science course next year!


After this event:

of girls are more interested in STEM

of girls want to study harder to attend college and further their education


Comments from the Girls:

"I loved playing with the turtle because I have never coded before. I may also want to take computer science next year!" - Grade 11

"The highlights I enjoyed from today's event was moving the turtle and hearing influencing stories about female power." - Grade 11

"This event convinced me to consider going into Computer Science." - Grade 10

"The highlight I enjoyed from today's event was learning to code and seeing how to apply it in the real world." - Grade 11

"The highlight from today was making a turtle move with simple code. This event inspired me to become interested in programming." - Grade 12

"The turtle coding was enjoyable. This got me interested in coding and building something so cool with letters and numbers." - Grade 11

"I enjoyed playing around with the turtle program. I also really enjoyed hearing the stories of the women because they inspired me to go after what I want." - Grade 11

"It was really fun hearing the panelists talk about their experiences because I realized that the path is not easy for everyone, so it's okay to feel uncertainty about the future as of right now because anything can happen." - Grade 11

"I especially enjoyed hearing the experiences and advice from the panelists, especially because they all have such different jobs with STEM. This has inspired me to try new things that I've never considered before." - Grade 12

"The highlights from today was when they talked about how their job changed their point of view. This inspired me to not get intimidated to a male dominant job." - Grade 12

"What I enjoyed was the coding we did in the beginning and it made me think, what else can I do?" - Grade 9