6Th grade girls spreading their love of computer coding

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

SCOTTSDALE, AZ -- There are not enough women in science and engineering jobs. Parents and educators have been trying to steer girls in that direction for years, but boys tend to gravitate toward those types of classes.

However, one group of 6th grade girls is trying to flip this script.

“Let me get you onto code.org,” Stella Dillard announced to the group of a dozen girls.

The 6th grader at Rancho Solano Preparatory School and her friends love computer coding, so they created a club where they could express themselves.

“Our club name is the GOCC, which stands for the Girls Only Coding Club," said Sophia Trujillo.

“We have a sticker and everything,” said Sanya Agarwal with a laugh. “It’s GOCC, code like a girl.”

No art, cooking, or dancing, but creativity through code.

“You can really express how you feel through your coding,” said Dillard.

The three friends are acutely aware their peers are not as comfortable with computers.  So, they make the lessons simple and fun and give away prizes.

“When someone thinks of coding, they think someone is going to be sitting in their room, on their computer all the time," Dillard said. "We want to eliminate that.  We want it to be, you can change the world with coding.”

“We combine different elements of everything in our club,” said Agarwal.  “Fashion, design; we do everything.”

Even at the tender age of 12, these girls recognize that when it comes to technology, boys are just different.

“When we did, like, a computer programming game, girls found it better to make details, our designs and stuff, where the boys were just kind of throwing things on there," Trujillo explained.

The girls plan the lessons and run the club. Technology teacher Julee Brentwood said the girls have learned most of this on their own.  She said she’s just there for support.

“I always tease them and say I hope they are going to be so successful that I can come and work for them,” Brentwood said with a smile.

The coding looks almost like a video game. The girls place codes in the right order to make popular game characters solve a puzzle.

“For example,” Agarwal said.  “The flappy bird craze was going around our school and we thought instead of playing Flappy Bird, why don't we code our own Flappy Bird game?” 

The next phase is to write their own code, creating some serious girl-power.

‘If you know how to do this, you're going to have the skills to invent something great, to help other people," said Trujillo.

“I think this is going to give girls a better chance in technology,” said Agarwal.