APTOS MS Kick Off Event


We had an inspiring IGNITE Kick Off Event at Aptos Middle School this year! Andrew Grosser, self-proclaimed Giant Nerd, lead a coding workshop where students go to use p5.js, a form of Java Script, to create graphic art using various shapes and colors. Students left inspired to create a game called The Invisible Cow at home and receive prizes for finishing it! We then had a panel of 4 volunteers share their story. Volunteers inspired girls by explaining obstacles they had to overcome like language barriers and failing math or computer science classes. Each of these volunteers continued to succeed in their profession because they asked for help, looked for resources, and kept at it to pursue their passion. The girls were able to ask questions and get a better understanding of various technology and engineering jobs that are available to them as well as how to prepare for a job interview. The girls loved the discussions and mentioned how inspired they were after the conversations. In fact, 4 girls were so inspired that they said they will sign up for Computer Science class next year!




Thank you to Andrew Grosser for organizing multiple volunteers and to SFUSD’s Computer Science for All Department for funding food for the girls and volunteers. Thank you to Jackie Vu, IGNITE Advisor and 8th grade Counselor, for getting the girls to the workshop, facilitating the event, giving volunteers fabulous Aptos Middle School t-shirts, and arranging food for the event. Thank you to Lisa Bishop, the Librarian, for allowing us to use the library and helping with technology set up. Thank you to Jason Hannon, the Principal, for being present and showing girls that you care about clearing barriers for them in order to give them the opportunity to try coding. Thank you to Olivia Leung, 6th grade Counselor, for supporting a smooth event.


Thank you to each of our IGNITE Volunteers for teaching and guiding girls during the coding workshops and bringing swag for the girls. I am still overcome with inspiration and emotion at the work you did with the girls that day.


Volunteer Name Position Company
Andrew Grosser Giant Nerd SF Growth Labs
Kate Oh Former Software Engineer Oracle
Jeannice Fairrer Samani Engineering Professor Santa Clara University
Chanda Yadavalli Former Software Engineer Cisco systems
Anji Desai Director of Product Management Digital Bricks
Acelia Castaneda Computer Science Student San Mateo College
Aria Srinivasan Senior Finance Analyst Groupon
Sarah Kim Front End Web Developer Groupon
Kate Presnetsova QA Engineer Groupon
Jenny Guan Cofounder and Head of Design Indisputable Labs
Kalin Kelly Partner 357 Investments


Special thanks to Jeannice, Anji, Acelia, and Kate who shared their stories with the girls on a panel. It’s what makes this experience so relevant and valuable. The girls related to the volunteers and see how similar they are to them: they went through a lot of things, did not have it easy, and had to work hard, but triumphed because they never gave up. It’s an amazing message and one that changes these girls’ lives forever. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories and answered questions with care and such thoughtfulness.


After this event:

of girls are more interested in STEM

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

63% of girls want to take a STEM course next semester



Here are some of the comments from the Student Evaluation surveys. The girls always say it best.


I learned that coding could be applied to many things to help the world. It inspired me to learn code even more. - Grade 7

I liked it when we were coding and it inspired me to do computer science for elective - Grade 6

I enjoyed learning that not everyone knows what they are doing at first. - Grade 6

I was inspired to learn that coding can be a part of lots of jobs. - Grade 6

This inspired me because I got to learn how to make shapes and teach myself. - Grade 7

The highlight of today was messing with stuff and exploring. - Grade 6

I was happy that I got to learn about all of these women’s cool backgrounds and stories. - Grade 6

I enjoyed coding for the first time and it made me want to learn more about it. - Grade 6

I really enjoyed being able to hear the women’s back stories. I also liked seeing the different types of coding that there is. - Grade 7

I was inspired by the people talking. It inspired me into learning more about coding and computer sciences. - Grade 7

I liked doing the coding and it inspired me to be into computers. - Grade 6

I liked coding and it inspired me to work on some coding. - Grade 6

I enjoyed the invisible cow game and it inspired me to do more coding. - Grade 6

I enjoyed them telling us about stuff, jobs, and everything. I thought the coding was so fun and want to do it again. - Grade 6



Thank you all again for contributing to such a wonderful day.

Amber Zertuche

IGNITE Regional Director