East Flatbush

Brooklyn girls learn how to code, create apps

Teens learn tech tools in immersion program

September 4, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Anah Lewi, a recent graduate of the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program sponsored by AT&T. The Brooklyn teens developed new apps.
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Anah Lewi, a 16-year-old from East Flatbush, is part of a team developing an app that any woman will be sure to love. Called “Fit Me,” the app takes your clothing size and translates it into comparable sizes sold in stores so that you can determine what size dress would look good on you when you shop in a particular store.

“If you’re a size 10, the clothes in one store might fit you, but in another store, you might be an 8 or maybe a 12, because the sizes run so different,” Anah told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Our app tells you what size you are in different stores.”

Anah, a student at the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design, worked on the app as part of a summer program for female students sponsored by AT&T. The AT&T Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program gave 20 lucky young women the opportunity to learn all about coding and to put what they learned to practical use. “The app still needs work, but we’re getting there,” said Anah, who added that she found it exciting to learn the algorithms.

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Experts from Girls Who Code, a non-profit program founded by former deputy public advocate Reshma Saujani, taught the classes. The goal of Girls Who Code is to close the gender gap in the science and technology sectors, according to the organization’s website.

The summer immersion program, which recently celebrated its completion with a graduation ceremony, held classes at AT&T’s offices at Rockefeller Center in July and August. Students got hands-on experience in coding, visited different departments within AT&T, and heard from guest speakers who encouraged them to take on leadership roles in the classroom and in life.

“The guest speakers were pretty inspiring,” said Ivy Wong, a 17-year-old from Gravesend. “They talked a lot about being leaders and how to handle people from different backgrounds.”

In the immersion program, the girls learned several programming languages, created computer games using JavaScript, HTML and CSS, programmed robots and built apps from the ground up. During the final weeks of the program, the girls had to work in teams to create and develop their own original projects.

Ivy, who is a member of the Robotics Team at Stuyvesant High School, worked in the AT&T program on an app for book lovers. She and her Girls Who Code team developed an app that helps the user organize his or her books. “It’s a literary app,” she told the Eagle.

The teams presented their ideas for apps at a fair that took place prior to the graduation ceremony in late August.

AT&T executives believe so strongly in the idea of females becoming more proficient in technology that the company is putting its money where its mouth is.

AT&T announced at the graduation ceremony that the company is making a $1 million contribution to Girls Who Code in an effort to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering fields.

The contribution will help Girls Who Code expand its Summer Immersion Program to cities across the country.

“Hosting the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is inspirational,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York State president of AT&T. “The synergy between our two organizations creates almost unparalleled opportunities for more women to be exposed to technology fields. The young women’s dedication and enthusiasm for learning is remarkable and we couldn’t be prouder of all they have accomplished. We can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Saujani said the support from AT&T has been crucial. “As we work to close the gender gap in technology and empower young women across the country, AT&T’s collaboration, from contributing financial resources to engaging employees in our mission,  has been essential. “Together we are creating an environment that exposes girls to computer science careers and leaders and demonstrates to them that with this skillset, the possibilities are endless,” she said.

The program is a two-way street, according to Shorenstein. “We at AT&T are always looking for new talent. We’re hoping some of these girls will want to work for us someday,” she told the Eagle.

Both Anah and Ivy said they enjoyed their summer experience at AT&T. Ivy plans to major in computer science in college and has her eye on a career in software engineering. Anah is also looking at software engineering as a possible career. “I plan to major in engineering,” she said.



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