Captivated by coding
“Addicted to Java” is how Michelle Arthars describes her interest in computer science. Michelle has recently advanced to using the coding language Java and the logic behind solving problems with this language has captivated her.
Michelle took Digital technologies in years 9 and 10 but only started coding in year 11. Initially, the coding focused on using Scratch. She found it challenging at the beginning – especially sitting in a class of boys who seemed to know a lot more than her about coding.
In year 12 Michelle is taking two computing courses – one that involves computer science and another with a focus on digital media.
To assess initial expertise in the language of Java, students in Michelle’s class were required to develop a pizza ordering system for achievement standard 91373 Construct an advanced computer program for a specified task.
This was Michelle’s first assessment in Java.
I loved it. I was up till midnight developing my dream pizza delivery system!Michelle Arthars
In digital technologies, Michelle has designed a game for an android phone using app inventor. She based her design on the popular online game Candy Crush.
The game, Firemellow, involves preventing a marshmallow hitting the sides of a wall. The gamer uses chocolate finger biscuits to prevent the marshmallow breaching the wall.
Michelle is a keen artist and took graphics in year 10. This has enhanced her digital technologies work and allowed her to create original graphics for her websites and games. She drew the graphics for Firemellow, including marshmallows with facial features and the graphics for the ultimate end of the game. She uses Photoshop when working on images.
Michelle is learning about coding that will control the accelerometer of the phone. The accelerometer is a built-in electronic component that measures tilt and motion.
The game design project involved developing a brief, researching games and their imagery, and selecting and interviewing stakeholders.
Michelle says she enjoys sharing her game with friends. The stakeholders are very impressed with the idea so far and she is looking forward to completing the coding.
Experiences outside of the classroom
Michelle participated in the Gateway programme earlier in the year and worked at Zeal in the area of social marketing.
When working at Zeal, she focussed on the web page called Live For Tomorrrow. This web page exists in different media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. Followers are observed and content created to encourage and inspire young people around the world to have a positive outlook of life.
The staff at Zeal encouraged Michelle to enter a Web Rangers competition to create products that supported a campaign to provide information for teenagers to prevent cyber bullying: see The Worst of Words (Anti-Cyber Bullying).
Michelle also attended a workshop in the holidays run by Ruby on Rails. Ruby on Rails® is an open-source web framework that favours convention over configuration.
Michelle’s digital teacher alerted her to the workshop. She applied for the event and was selected to attend together with 48 other girls.
The purpose of the course was to introduce girls to the world of programming and included some coding for websites. This added to Michelle’s coding knowledge.
Computer science and software engineering both appeal to Michelle. She has plans to attend open days at Auckland University to find out more about these programmes.
Engaging girls in computer science
Michelle’s computer science teacher, Jessy George, says that she usually has five to six girls in her senior classes and next year she does not have any girls that have enrolled in year 11 computer science. This has made her consider how she could interest more girls in computer science.
Jessy plans to start a lunchtime club just for girls and to ask the senior girls to help her with it. She is also exploring a system where club members would earn badges for participating in various ways in the club.
I believe that every girl has the capability to work in the computer science field. I am evidence of this. Computer science is a subject that tends to be overlooked by girls due to the typical stereotype issue. But if you enjoy working with computers and solving problems, then this is definitely the subject for you. For those of you who do not know where you stand, my advice would be, don’t be afraid to give it a go. Who knows, you might just find the subject interesting and enjoyable. I know I definitely have!Michelle Arthars
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