Ada Lovelace Day in Hull: Inspiring and engaging young people to increase participation of girls in computing

Teachers and Y7 students joined us from across the city to collaborate on creative physical computing projects and explore careers in STEM.

Aims of the day:

  • To support the participation of more girls in computing and strategies to help close the gender gap in STEM fields.
  • To challenge and influence perceptions of computing with positive role models
  • To share creative opportunities through physical computing as a wearable tech STEAM projects (art, textiles, design etc.)
  • To support teachers with networking and collaborative opportunities

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We used the WISE Campaign’s People Like Me resources to explore personal strengths and aspirations and also to find out more about careers in STEM.

Language considerations opened up conversations and  thoughts on future possibilities, and for some adults a reassurance of their career choice in an instructor/teacher role.  Yes, we were all involved 🙂

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Students worked in pairs to start their projects through design-thinking, which meant sketching ideas and thoughts after initially coding and downloading a starter activity onto Codebugs.

The project brief was theirs to personalise and consider their own purpose and levels of complexity.  Support with ideas came with peer coaching and an array of resources to invent a wearable technology solution to their real life problem – or purpose.

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Lights, sound, tunes and messages were coded and then incorporated into their digital making projects.  Several iterations later and they were able to share their inventions, models and textile-based creations.

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Feedback from the students?

  • Computing activities can be complex and frustrating. But once you understand how to control it, it will become easier.
  • I found the part when we designed our inventions on the piece of paper exciting because it required us to discuss and think about what we were going to do.
  • I liked sewing the project together because it was challenging.
  • I found the designing exciting because we used our own ideas.
  • I liked making the project because it was fun and creative.
  • I liked exploring different ideas of computer science.
  • The activity was hard and frustrating at times but when you finally complete the activity, you feel really good and satisfied.
  • Making the project was interesting.

And how did they describe the digital making activities?

  • Fun and interesting!
  • Hard, different, fun and I would do it again
  • Wasn’t as I expected
  • I think that it was challenging and was fun
  • Interesting yet difficult
  • I found it tricky on some things but near the end it was fun and easy because I like to be creative and make/build things

Thanks to Winifred Holtby Academy, who became part of the planning cycle from the beginning, and sparked more interest in students to form future Lego challenge teams.

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