Education Technology

Coding Like a Girl (Scout), and Loving It!

Posted 08/06/2021 by Jennifer Kass

Like many of you, I wear a variety hats in a day — daughter, sister, wife, mom, marketing professional, runner, math education advocate, PTA member, college football fan and, last but not least, a Girl Scout leader!

I started my career in engineering because I loved math and science. Both subjects were concrete, straightforward and fascinating to me. I want my daughters and other young girls to find the same interest and confidence in math and science, so when an opportunity to partner with Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX) came to my attention combining all of these things, I threw my heart and head into this project to make it happen.

It is such a joyful event when different aspects of my life somewhat magically mix together. My eyes lit up when Michelle Grooms, one of our TI Educational Technology Consultants (and also a fellow Girl Scout leader), shared her experience that she had been using Texas Instruments (TI) graphing calculators and our 10 Minutes of Code activities to help Girl Scouts earn badges related to coding. I immediately knew we had to make this “official,” and create a program to spread the word and get other Girl Scout leaders and Girl Scouts to jump on board too!

Collaborating with the GSNETX council, we created easy-to-follow activities for Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors to earn the Coding for Good, Coding Basics badge. Graphing calculators not only offer a simplified interface and approach to coding, but they are a tool that many already use in their math and science classes. This gives anyone, especially girls, a friendly introduction to coding. There are three ways that Girl Scouts can earn the badge using the resources we have created:

  1. Self-paced. They can grab their TI calculator and start following the activities themselves. Our website has an easy-to-follow path that coaches the girls through each of the five badge requirements.

  2. Troop workshops. Troop leaders can borrow TI graphing calculators from TI, or have the girls bring their calculators from home, and facilitate a troop meeting to work through the requirements together.

  3. TI-facilitated event. Troop leaders, service unit coordinators or council program managers can ask a TI expert to host a virtual event. The expert can send TI calculators to the site, the girls can use those calculators to follow along during the virtual event, then the calculators can be sent back for another group of Girl Scouts to earn their badge.

Recently, I had the chance to work through some of these activities with a few girls from my Junior troop. The Volunteer Guide made it easy for me to get started! We followed the plan and started with the introductory TI Codes lessons. Within 10 minutes they had written their first program. Their sweet faces gleamed when they realized they had created something on the calculator. It was inspiring to see their creativity shine through and their minds processing the possibilities of what they could do next with their new coding skills.

These activities are free and available online to any Girl Scout, or anybody, for that matter. My hope is that these activities create a simple path for girls to discover coding, and support Girl Scouts volunteers to easily bring an inspiring program to their girls. Check out the site, and get coding!

About the author: Jennifer Kass is the Director of Marketing for TI Education Technology, where she has worked for more than 15 years. During her career, she has worked in chemical engineering, finance and operations. She is also the mom of four kids, an avid runner and a Disney movie and parks aficionado.