By Jin Hee Bae, Community Affairs Manager, Microsoft Korea
In March, we celebrated the work of women inventors and how they changed our world in the #MAKEWHATSNEXT initiative, launched in conjunction with International Women’s Day. #MAKEWHATSNEXT aims to broaden the imaginations of young women and girls by showcasing what is possible in STEM.
As part of our efforts to continue inspiring young women and girls to embark on a journey in technology, we recently invited 100 girls aged nine to 16 for a YouthSpark programme called DigiGirlz Day, held in our office here in Seoul. These students came from underprivileged backgrounds across South Korea—some from underserved youth centres, while others from local schools that receive education welfare support from the government—who had not attended a computer science class before.
We worked closely with our very own YouthSpark Alumni to plan four coding sessions, three of which were unplugged, that would give participants a basic understanding of computer science to get them started and inspired. The young girls were grouped according to their ages and separated into different teams.
For the two activities, Code Bunny and Code Flower, teams had to choose a representative and navigate her to meet the game objectives through directional arrows. During Code Bunny for instance, the participants were frantically waving directional papers—to go left, right, up, and down—at their chosen member to avoid obstacles placed on the make-shift gridded floor and help her reach the treasure boxes within the shortest amount of moves possible. These introduced them to the fundamental concept of arrows in computing, which is a way of expressing relationships between logical steps in a code line. Participants also learned the basic binary system through Code Pink, a code-breaking activity where they solved puzzles using binary knowledge.
We wrapped up DigiGirlz Day with Code Ribbon, the only plugged session of the day. The girls gathered excitedly around Microsoft Surface devices and completed the Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial, which taught them basic programming skills in a simple, fun, and accessible manner.
Participants on Microsoft Surface devices doing the Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial
It was great to see how much the participants enjoyed themselves. According to participant Eun-min Kho, “It was more than what I expected. It was really fun experiencing various computer science-based activities without even using the computer!”
We had a lot of fun with the participants, and we hope to organise more of such events to continue inspiring a new generation of female innovators and inventors who are fearless about changing the world.
Keen to participate in DigiGirlz Day? Click here to find out when it is coming to a city near you.