Girls Who Code Questions

Writing is a process.  I could not write in high school and it has taken me 40 years to learn to enjoy writing. What is empowering is when you get your first editorial published. When you get your first law passed. But what is even more empowering is when you see the youth doing the same thing. And by youth I mean anyone without gray hair.

Questions I was asked by the DIGITAL TECH CONFERENCE organizers:

What is your favorite part about being in the position of the White House Champion of Change?

Being a WHChamps keeps me connected to my values.  I am still part of a tribe who are living up to the challenge to help win the future by out-educating, out-innovating, and out-building our competitors in the 21st century.  It keeps me blogging, as it is my websites started in the 1990s that resulted in being honored as a White House Champion of Change. The 1000’s of WHChamps are still connected on a closed Facebook page. And I can search on their interactive map for those who live in my area or who are working on similar challenges.  My challenge is to do the same thing for you girls through mentorships and internships connected to your passions:

How do you think more girls can become interested in computer science?

Social groups like this who can team to solve problems. Have you been a political activist? Advocate to make CS an academic area.

  • Contact the CTE coordinator in Fort Bend about their decisions for CS choices on your course selection sheets.
  • Ask your school board about their long range plans for CS education.
  • Include in accountability creating a digital portfolio and apps.
  • Integrate into all core subjects as part of assignments.

Teach through the Arts.  Do you know about Seymour Papert, Artemis Papert, Turtle Art, coding Digital to Physical, Logo Foundation?  Have a Dance Party.

Was there a specific moment in your life when you realized that you were interested in computer science? 

I enjoyed designing and sewing when I was your age. I liked creating things and became interested in AI as I was interested in how the brain worked. Majored in math, but in 1968 added a minor in 1968 in computer science. Dropped this as I became frustrated standing in lines to run my keypunch cards. Had cognitive science been a major, that is what I would study now.   My brother learned to program in “C” to write software for his construction business.  Since there was no computer store in town, he opened an Apple store. I bought an AppleIIE, which I still have, for my children in the 1970s.  That is when my interest really started, programming in Logo and Basic.  Do you know who Leo Cherne is? I felt the power that rooted my interest:  The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid … The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculation.

What is an opportunity that you wish more high school students chose to be involved in?

Political Advocacy through Writing Editorials.

Do you have any recommendations to help students to discover and focus in one area of computer science?  

Research what lights your fire.  See where the pathways on the answers take you.  If you keep coming back to one area, find out what languages they use to solve.  Have you ever programmed in “R” or Processing? Have you taken a data science course? How have you used CS to solve a local problem to help nature? To help those in your community?

In your opinion what are the best resources for help and support when first starting out in this field and navigating course selections in high school and college?

  • Best resource is the questions you ask. The questions you asked to prepare for this conversation were excellent!!  Attend online webinars in and outside your area of interest as this creates questions you did not know you had.
  • Making connections with mentors such as Target’s coming up Social Justice Hackathon.
  • Read Tom Friedman’s “Thank you for being Late.” This can take you down 100’s of pathways and to his original book “The World is Flat.”

Knowledge is Answers to Questions, the more questions the more knowledge.

While working as a programmer, what was your favorite programming project? And why?

Working for Dr. Mavis Kelsey was typing his family genealogy.  He wrote everything on index cards, sorted, then added to the index. I suggested he buy an AppleIIE and use the next database software.  I was one of the first to use the Microsoft Access Database and worked with the company to improve their software. Every semicolon and period had to be right. When finally finished, I ran the data, but alas not enough memory. Contacted Computer Craft on 59 and Bissonnet where we purchased, as they promised it would work.  They said I could run the data on their computer with more memory.  I remember loading the code which had to run overnight. I taped a sign on the monitor, “do not turn off!”.  The most exciting moment was coming in the next morning and seeing the words, index complete.  And finally seeing the book published that I was part of in 1979.  A book I am part of now is “No Fear Coding, Computational Thinking Across the K-5 Curriculum.  I wrote the chapters on the Bee-Bot which are I posted online. And presented at a workshop for the City of Houston.  They are looking for ambassadors if interested in doing presentation like this with a friend who lives in Houston.

Thank you leaders for inviting me to present at your Girls Who Code workshop which gave me a deadline to getting some of my history posted.  Nice thing about coding in HTML and blogging is that all my errors can easily be fixed.  And new ideas can be added at anytime in the future. And being able to do what I love, talk to students.  Which is so much more fun than adults, who often make me feel uncomfortable.



My questions:

  1. Have you ever been to the White House?
  2. Have you been a political activist?
  3. Do you know about Seymour Papert, Artemis Papert, and Turtle Art?
  4. Have you considered cognitive science for your field of study?
  5. Do you know who Leo Cherne is?
  6. Have you ever programmed in Logo or Basic?
  7. Have you ever sent an editorial to the Houston Chronicle?
  8. Have you ever programmed in “R” or Processing?
  9. Are you interested in genealogy?
  10. Have you thought about publishing a book?

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