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CHS Senior Leading Girls Who Code at Glenside

esther with students (Dec. 20, 2023) CHS senior Esther Kim always had a keen interest in majoring in computer science, but wanted to keep her option to teach open. What better way to gain experience in both than leading the Girls Who Code program at Glenside Elementary? Completing her fourth year of teaching coding to GES students, Kim taught her final lesson on Tuesday. Girls Who Code at the elementary schools familiarizes and introduces girls to computer science.

“Girls Who Code gave me volunteer hours,” said Kim, a Glenside Elementary alumna who became involved with Girls Who Code following an email from her teacher Sarah Putterman. “I also have always had an inclination to teach, and thought it would be fun to help kids learn coding.”

The first year of the program during the pandemic was tough. Meetings were conducted over Google Meet. Following the pandemic, however, Kim was able to get into the building to teach students about coding. In terms of skills, the students have dabbled in various types of activities each year, while usually focusing on a few basic concepts in computer science.

“Esther really is a gift to us,” said Putterman. “She is simply a whirlwind of talent, hard work, and warmth. Her (students) adore her. She’s clearly impacted their perspective of women in computer science.” 

This year, Kim and her students have focused a lot on programming languages and been introduced to concepts like conditionals. As Kim’s time with the program winds down, the students are working on their own mini apps using code.org (a website for children to learn coding). In past years, students have conducted activities related to ciphers, Microbits, and Edison Bots. 

“Since they are so young, I don't expect all of them to understand everything but I hope that some of them may take an interest in the field and possibly continue to study it. The most gratifying part about working with elementary students is seeing the positive outlook most of this new generation seems to have. I appreciate seeing the children trying their best despite the challenges of coding, and some actually have a true knack for it.”