Anythink York hosts program to boost girls’ tech skills, self-image

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In an effort to expose young women to technology and to get them to use it for social justice, Anythink York has partnered with the University of Colorado to offer CompuGirls.

CompuGirls is a two-month long program that will be held every Saturday in September and October at Anythink York, 8990 York St. in Thornton on the Mapleton Public Schools Skyview Campus. The participants range in age from 13 to 17.

“Research shows that both women and women of color are underrepresented in the STEM fields; CompuGirls was created to address this need,” said Tiffany Lloyd, CompuGirls site coordinator and program assistant. “The hope is that the early exposure to technology gives girls the confidence and knowledge to pursue careers in these fields.”

Anythink teen guide Michelle Hawkins said the program helps the girls gain a sense of self-confidence and a host of research and technology skills that will benefit them throughout their academic and professional careers.

“It’s not just learning technology for technology sake, it’s to give the girls a voice and explore a topic relevant to them,” she said.

The curriculum is divided into three sessions. Girls use imovie to design a video documentary that expresses their thoughts on their chosen social justice topic during the first topic. The second session focuses on representations of women in the media.

“Participants use Scratch, an animation and programming software to create digital and interactive representations of themselves in order to examine the ways in which their self-concept is influenced by the stereotypes and ideals of the greater society,” Lloyd said. “The third and final curriculum component allows the girls to explore the ideas of identity and bias through Jokaydia, an online virtual world environment.”

Hawkins said that the slots filled quickly for the program, but that CompuGirl may run the program at another site nearby to accommodate other applicants, but nothing has been formalized.

Stacie Ledden, Anythink communications director, said that the library district does not currently have plans to bring this program to other branches.

“However, we’re very excited to be participating and could possible host at other libraries in the future once we see how the first one goes,” she said.

Compugirls was created in 2007 by Kimberly Scott at Arizona State University and the program expanded to Colorado in the summer of 2012.

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