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How to get more girls to code: Use Frozen's Elsa

Stashed in: Software!, Disney!, Awesome, Learn to program., XX, Technology, Frozen, Girls Who Code

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I would never have been a programmer if "traditional" teaching methods -- e.g. stocks and games -- were how I learned. I just am not interested in either one!

This sounds like a good thing for those who are interested in it, though:

The tutorial, at, becomes part of the non-profit's online learning platform, which is used in more than 50,000 classrooms. The Frozen tutorial will also kick off the 'Hour of Code' campaign, an initiative designed to widen participation in computer science worldwide, especially among girls.

The backbone of the tutorial is basic: employ simple commands to help the princesses skate lines on the ice. The program uses "Blockly," a visual drag-and-drop way to create a string of commands. The older student can toggle to see the JavaScript it's based on.

The initiative has brought in a few spokeswoman to walk kids through video tutorials. These include Microsoft engineer Paola Mejia. They also include two models, including one who can boast both modeling and writing software applications as career achievements.

Disney is also donating $100,000 to to bring computer science education to after-school programs.

I'm glad everyone's investing in tools to make programming more accessible.  And I am acutely aware that my son and I are heavily biased towards testosterone-driven interactions like blowing things up.

Yet I strongly suspect it takes more than a fantastically popular princess to get girls (or anyone else) truly into programming.  The Blockly techniques (based on Alice from CMU) do a fine job of teaching primitives like loops and conditionals. But even Seymour Papert himself (in the 1993 revision of Mindstorms) decried how so many people misunderstood his work on Logo and turtles to be about "structured programming."

The real goal of Mindstorms -- and learning programming -- is to teach abstraction and constructivism. The existing Hour of Code tutorials (which my son did five of before he turned six years old) merely teach automation.  That's a nice skill, but a far cry from what is needed to actually become a programmer.

At The Swan Factory, we're on a mission to change that.  Our goal is to build a one-hour tutorial that provides a meaningful experience of programming, defined as actually giving students the ability to design, develop and deploy their own games.  We may not make it in time, but I prefer deep failure to superficial success.

I would love to find someone with a deep understanding of how women learn to help us ensure the gameplay is something that appeals to both genders.  If you know anyone who is interested in this topic, open to radically new ways of teaching programming, and has some spare time over the next two weeks, please have them drop me a line at [email protected]  Thanks!

Swan Factory is a good name. :)

I don't know how women learn but you might want to check in with ...

i would like some girls who code to teach me how to manage my website!

I'm not sure they rent out interns but you could start a club to help:

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