JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Members of a Region 8 library are teaching young ladies how to code.
Teen Services Librarian Jessica Horton said they want to help Region 8 ladies be competitive in areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
"We've started a branch of a national organization called 'Girls Who Code' ", Horton said. "We're the first branch in Northeast Arkansas. Any girls in grades 6 through 12 in any of the schools can come and participate and learn coding."
Horton said there's something in particular that makes this program so unique.
"This is specifically geared towards girls," Horton said. "A lot of the high schools have coding classes, but girls are less likely to take them and be interested in them. So, this is to try and interest them and to keep their interest from 13 to 17-year old's because that's when girls seem to lose their interest. They don't go into those fields in college and so they're not getting the high paid computer technology jobs that men are getting."
Coding falls into the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
"Coding is using symbols, letters, and numbers," Horton said. "To create things on a computer. Either a program or app on a phone. It could be used to code actual physical things like robots. Or it could be something as simple as coding for a website."
In Girls Who Code, Horton said the participants are expected to look at their community and the world around them and choose a problem they feel they could address using technology.
"The problem my girls chose to address," Horton said. "They decided to address sexual harassment, abuse, consent and rape culture. They're creating a website about all of those things to inform people. Specifically in Northeast Arkansas. I let the girls brainstorm some different topics and that was one that came up pretty quickly down the line. They played off each other things that really matter to them that they didn't see coming up at their schools and they thought it was something that should be addressed."
Horton said they may be younger members of society, but they're well aware of what's going on in the world.
"It's a topic that's very relevant," Horton said. "Even though they're in high school they see the news every day. They know it should be presented and so, they wanted to remedy the situation. So, they're trying to create something to address the problem."
They've created the home page for the website and they're working on the rest of it.
"We'll keep working on it," Horton said. "We'll work on it til we get the website to where they want it to be."
Three girls are working on this project.
One girl is in the eighth grade, one in ninth grade and the other is in tenth grade.
"They came up with the project," Horton said. "They're the ones working on it. I just kind of steer or guide to help them find resources. Or to help them do research because they've had to do a lot for the project that they've chose. They knew they needed relevant up to date statistics for our area and not just nationwide or even statewide. They've had to dig pretty deep to find the information that they needed."
Horton said some girls have come to the library to try it out and discovered that it's not for them, but many have discovered an interest and keep coming back.
Horton says all you need to do to participate is show up.
"They can come to the library any Monday," Horton said. "We hold it from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. They don't have to know anything about coding beforehand. They don't even have to have a library card. As long as they are a girl in grades 6 through 12. They can come and they're welcome to."
Horton said this program will run through at least mid-February of next year.
For more information about the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library, click here.
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