Sixth-grade computer coders visit State Farm IT department

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Parents hear a lot about STEM education -- science, technology, engineering and math. But it is still an area students tend to avoid in the long run -- girls, especially.

A local girls only coding club is trying to flip the script and is making a name for itself. The students got an invitation to visit a major company this week and get some tech inspiration from those doing the real job.

State Farm is a well-known American brand that has been expanding into Tempe and Phoenix.

“Some of my friends come up and say, ‘Why are you going to State Farm?'” said sixth-grader Stella Dillard.

“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” laughed her friend, Sanya Agarwal. “I had no idea there was an IT department.”

State Farm has expanded its IT research and development here, and that's where we found the Girls Only Coding Club from Rancho Solano Preparatory School.

Remember them? We met the sixth graders at their school in February.

“So, if you know how to do this,” Sophia Trujillo explained at the time, “you are going to have the skills to invent something great to help other people.”

“We are very interested in reaching elementary, high school, college,” said Sheri Heins, State Farm's director of IT research and development in Arizona.

Heins and her team members saw our story and wanted to meet the bright young ladies behind the computers. After the tour, female team members shared stories of how they connect with other women in the male dominated IT world.

“Don't worry about what some of the others might think or maybe what you are not seeing out in front of you,” Heins advised. "Being confident about where you're going and supporting one another will get you there.”

The girls got a little taste of the tech business during their visit. They worked with professionals to write code that created robot pictures. But more than anything, they saw the goals of their club realized.

“We just want to lift the stereotypes that boys are the only ones who can do coding,” Sanya said.

“To get to meet women who are out in the world doing the things we're doing at a much bigger level,” Stella said.

The Girls Only Coding Club plans to start using other technology its members are interested in. They are going to write code, creating designs to use with a 3-D printer.

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