Girls Who Code

Senior discusses self-started club


Stephanie Kontopanos, Assistant Editor

In May 2021, Senior Maddie Watson began a Girls Who Code Club club at BVHS.

“[Computer Science teacher] Mr. Slade had come to me about starting a Girls Who Code Club,” Watson said. “I was one of the only girls in computer science, and I was involved in computer science clubs.”

Slade and Watson both handled separate responsibilities in creating a club.

“Starting a club was not super bad,” Watson said. “Mr. Slade handled a lot of the logistics. I just made a group chat, added people to it, [and] had the activities fair. I [made] posters. I recruited every girl I saw. I was just like, ‘Hey, are you interested in coding?’”

This year, Watson believes that the club’s engagement will increase.

“Last year, a lot of people were less enthusiastic,” Watson said. “[The] meeting was just about getting interest and building a foundation. The first couple meetings we’ve had, people have been a lot more interested.”

Watson had experience with Girls Who Code in middle school, as she was involved with the organization’s chapter at CAPS.

“It wasn’t what I wanted,” Watson said. “It wasn’t really fun, so this is my opportunity to make it something that I would have liked in middle school. I’m basically taking it and making it better.”

Despite the negative experience, Watson loved the social aspect of the club.

“The general sisterhood was nice because I felt like I had a built-in group of friends,” Watson said. “That’s something I really want to recreate.”

As founder of the club, Watson gets to improve her planning and leadership skills.

“There’s [a] framework online and I [fill] the meeting plans,” Watson said. “I make the presentations myself. I learn the things that I’m going to teach in the meetings. It’s intimidating, but it’s really exciting. Presenting is definitely not my strong suit, so it’s been fun to get better at talking in front of people.”

For Watson, having a leadership position means having flexibility and independence.

“In school, you have a rubric to follow,” Watson said. “When I’m making presentations, I’m like, ‘Should I include this?’ and then I’m like, ‘Who’s going to tell me no?’ so I just included it in the presentation, because it’s whatever I want.”

Watson has designed the club to revolve around a 3-part schedule.

“I want to start with about five minutes of a bonding activity [where] we get to know each other’s names, pop up a question of the day to recreate the sisterhood,” Watson said. “I’d also like to introduce some general programming basics, so at this first meeting we’re going to be doing some stuff that can be implemented across most programming languages- basic concepts. We’ll follow up with 20 or 25 minutes of independent work on programming. You can go through the tutorials that are on the website and follow along. During that time you can also collaborate with other students. Then we’ll end and we’ll talk as a group about our project.”

Watson also looks forward to getting to use new equipment.

“Mr. Slade has given us hardware equipment to work with, [including] Raspberry Pi’s or Arduinos, which are mini-computers that you plug into a monitor,” Watson said. “I’m excited to work with those because that’s new for me. It’s going to be a great opportunity to get hands-on experience.”

Watson has a set goal in mind for what she wants to accomplish with this club.

“I think most girls want to learn computer science, [but] they don’t have the right environment to do that,” Watson said. “You don’t have to major in computer science, but even having one programming language on your resume looks so good. You don’t have to have a career in it, but the main goal is to just to spark an interest.”