Teen offering computer programming camp
Sydney Von Arx has a fun summer planned for middle-school aged girls: She is offering Hello World, a web development camp for a week in August.
"I'm making the camp to address what I feel is a serious issue in Lake Oswego: a lack of STEM opportunities for girls," she said. "For the second time now I've found myself in an engineering class where there were only one or two girls at the start of the school year, and by the end of the first semester, every girl but me left the class. My school has a small programming community and I'm the only girl."
Von Arx says she "delights in all things STEM," but would like some female camaraderie.
"I know if girls really tried programming and saw how it's more than just staring at a screen all day many would fall in love with it like I did," she said.
Von Arx said she successfully taught her sister and a friend to program, and they enjoyed it. If she could teach them, she suspected she could teach others, and that is where she got the idea to host a camp.
"I've written the curriculum for my camp myself, and found a place to hold it," she said. "I got a grant from the National Center for Women and Information Technology and I'm ready to lead it."
The camp will run from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 6 through 10 at The Tek Center, 5950 Willow Lane in Lake Oswego. No experience is necessary and campers do not need to be a computer whiz.
"All you need is a willingness to learn and try new things," Von Arx said. And if you do know some about programming, don't worry — she'll give you plenty of challenging tasks no matter your skill level.
And though she believes learning code is a great experience for everyone, she is limiting enrollment to girls to ensuring a welcoming, comfortable environment.
"I can speak from experience as the only woman in my engineering class," she said. "It's hard. Girls are actually as good — some studies suggest even better — programmers than guys, and at the young ages they share the same level of interest. But in middle school they start to lose interest in programming and turn to more traditionally female roles. We aim to change that by showing girls how fun, useful and powerful programming can be. So, sorry boys but it's time to give the girls a turn."
Due to the hours of the camp, Von Arx will serve a light dinner with allergy and special-diet friendly options. Campers are also welcome to bring their own dinner.
"We have a lot to cover so we might not take very long to eat it, though," she said.
"Moreover, she'll get the techniques, resources and passion to continuing tinkering with code for the rest of her life!" Von Arx said.