Columbus middle school girls learn to program apps at ‘Hackathon’

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Middle school girls met in teams Friday for a “Hackathon” in downtown Columbus.

Erin Noviski, head of the middle school at The Wellington School, said the yearlong program was developed in order to keep girls interested in technology. More than half of the girls in fifth through eighth grades, for a total of 47 students, were involved in the program and met throughout the year, working in teams to design and create an app of their choice.

“Working together collaboratively, having a choice in choosing whatever app they wanted to create, working with female mentors and then actually building something to present, I think it sparked their interest,” Noviski said.

Christine Cooke, an eighth-grader, said the program has been great for her, because she had an app idea and was already interested in coding.

Her team’s app allows users to enter the lyric of a song to which they do not know the title. The app then scans and comes up with a list of songs that match the lyric.

“It’s so empowering for me, especially being like a young girl, I always look up to people, and I’m a soccer player so I always look up to the girls who are playing soccer higher than me and like in the national team and so it’s really empowering to feel like I’m doing something so good and it’s really fun,” Cooke said.

Cooke described the process of creating the app: designing an API with a database of songs using artist and album, allowing a user to put information in and get information back.

The program, “Girlz in Tech,” is a collaboration between The Wellington School and Nationwide Insurance. A spokesperson for the event noted that girls’ interest in STEM subjects peaks at age 11, but declines as girls enter their teenage years.

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