Computer Coding Highlights New Offering at Girls STEM Event

Apr 6, 2016

  Girls-n-Science  is all about getting young girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math…or STEM.

It started with 300 girls. Now this free program brings in some 700 to 900 girls with their parents, grandparents and teachers.

The annual program used to be called Chicks In Science. This year the name has changed and so has some parts of the program.

There’s a special morning event called STEM stars. Organizer Laura Gettings-Carlson says it’s just for middle schoolers.

“We feel is the way to engage 7th and 8th grade girls just a little different,” said Gettings-Carlson, head of MSUB’s Extended Campus.

She said organizing committee found a drop off in the participation of the older girls and decided to hold a special morning session just for them.

She said her committee was asking, “What are girls interested in? What is going on Billings in STEM?” She added,” There are some amazing things happening.”

Three female STEM local professionals will do fun hands-on activities with them. One of the offering is computer coding, the set of instructions that tell a computer what to do.

It will be led by Katey Plymesser, assistant professor of engineering at MSUB. 

She thinks coding provides critical thinking and problem solving skills.

“People need now a days to work in these technology fields,” she said.” We hear a lot from employers that people don’t have the critical thinking and problem solving skills that they want. So if we can start really young and use coding as a way to do that, girls can really start to develop these problem solving skills.”

And Plymesser thinks as we become more technology reliant, people will need to something about coding.

“And I am not a computer programmer. I am a civil engineer but I use coding all the time which is why I’m pretty passionate about it. It’s not just for computer scientists. It’s not just for software developers.”

Girls-n-Science offers girls opportunities to explore things from coding to robot wars, from lasers to human anatomy.