Today I spent my day at a Rails Girls Wellington event. The aim of the two day workshop is…
We aim to take a range of skill levels and form smaller working groups based on experience.
The day started with coffee and mingling and then an introduction from the two fantastic organisers – Merrin Macleod (@merxplat) and Kelly Cheesman (@kellective). It was interesting hearing Kelly talk about how her interest in technology started at high school with a program called Tech Angels.
We moved onto having a chat with the person next to us and I chatted with Nat (@) from Vend in Auckland. Great conversation about how important it is to get more women and girls into coding and about Gather Workshops – more investigation needed (@).
It was then time to hear from Charlie Ablett (@ with the heading of her talk being ” Software is the closest thing we have to magic”. She discussed what she sees as that three main reasons that women don’t continue with computer science / programming:
- programming is done by yourself and therefore not very interesting
- working on programs that are boring, trivial and simple – so computer science is boring
- it is not creative
Having started a first year programming paper via the University of Canterbury at the beginning of this term, I would agree with this with what I have experienced so far, although I am very very new to it all.
However, Charlie made it clear that programming is not actually like that when you get out there into industry.Paraphrasing – “It is not true that you program by yourself, it is collaborative and social, whether in the same physical space or not. It is all about solving problems and coming up with the best solution for a problem. This is a very creativity process as there can be lots of solutions for a problem but not all of them good solutions. Being able to express your creativity in programming can be limited when starting out but as you learn more you can express yourself and do amazing things.”
Charlie ended with saying that programming is about consistently growing and learning. That you can make changes in the physical world by writing software and turn thoughts into real world change.
We then moved on to trying out Ruby by using Try Ruby – http://tryruby.org/. Then a talk from Amy Palamountain (@) about GitHub – Code.GitHub & Animated Gifs. Great start talking about how code is just really text and how would you manage a wall of text adn 50 people on your team etc. Excellent introduction to GitHub with cool demo and interactive as participants were invited to add the the Animal Party (plus free stuff too!).
We then got into doing some Ruby on Rails by following the guide at http://guides.railsgirls.com/app/. This was good, slightly frustrating as I seemed to keep hitting hurdles but there were plenty of great coaches to help me out. My progress was also slow as I networked with a few people, which was great and brings me onto some questions.
One conversation I had we talked about Python and Ruby and how Ruby is used more in industry and Python is more used within scientific areas. This got me wondering about whether there are teachers in NZ teaching Ruby in schools. Or are we mostly teaching Python because there are a lot of good resources available.
So, my questions:
- are you or do you know of anyone who is teaching Ruby in high schools?
- would Ruby be a better programming language to teach in high schools?
- would it be easy? would it be more interesting for girls? (I am already finding what I have done to do more interesting as I am making something that I can see / use on a webpage straight away)
- anyone interested in exploring developing resources for Year 11 / 12 / 13?
- who is interested in coming into school (local Wellington school, all girls’) and talking about how they got into the industry and the work they do now?
Would love to hear your thoughts!