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The Birth of ORCSGirls Jr.

  It's 1 PM on a Monday afternoon. 13 elementary school girls are waiting patiently for the camp to start. The excitement and anticipation can be felt through the Zoom screen as I start to talk... "Hi, my name's Katie! Welcome to the first ever ORCSGirls Jr. Virtual Reality Camp! Let's get started."      Last summer (2022), I had the idea to run a coding camp for young girls through ORCSGirls. Regular ORCSGirls classes are only open to girls in 5th through 10th grade, and as a middle schooler, I wanted 2nd-4th grade girls to have a chance to explore computer science too. The goal of ORCSGirls is to inspire young girls to pursue careers in technology, and giving them that spark as early as 2nd grade is an awesome opportunity.      A lot of planning went into making this camp possible. I started with an interest survey, which is how I chose virtual reality as the topic for the camp. Then I spent months gathering a team of counselors, making forms, and getti
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ProjectORCSGirls 2023

ORCSGirls mentoring and encouraging girls to participate in the ProjectCSGirls competition goes back to 2018 and every year more girls joined in.  The challenge is simple. Build something using computer science and technology that can help solve an imminent social problem under one of four themes - global health, a safer world, intelligent technology, and bridging inequalities.  Unfortunately it became clear after the girls had already spent time on their projects, that the 2023 ProjectCSGirls competition will not take place and we decided to hold a local competition for our eight girls and named it ProjectORCSGirls 😎 A big thank you to Prof. Katharine Page and the  Institute for Advanced Materials & Manufacturing at the University of Tennessee Knoxville for hosting or celebration gala on August 13. Four finalists joined us in person and four participated virtually. Below are the blog posts about each project the girls submitted as part of their entries ✨ Noise Recorder using t

ProjectCSGirls 2022

Back in 2015 my daughter Klara and her friend Jamie participated in the national online ProjectCSGirls competition creating a VR MRI Simulator and winning 2nd place ✨ Being at the awards gala and seeing the awesome project presentation from middle school girls around the US in many ways inspired me to found Oak Ridge Computer Science Girls.  ProjectCSGirls runs a national competition designed to challenge middle school girls to actively use computer science and technology to develop a solution to an imminent social problem. The challenge is simple. Build something using computer science and technology that can help solve an imminent social problem under one of four themes - global health, a safer world, intelligent technology, and bridging inequalities.  Since 2018 some of 'our' girls have entered and competition and in 2022 we set a new record with six projects and seven girls participating. Suchita , Leah and Kristen & Katie , Nishka , Nicole and Tvisha were all selected

Leah's Story

ORCSGirls is such a positive environment, and their mission is to inspire girls to pursue careers in computer science. I would like to share a few ways that ORCSGirls has inspired and empowered me. I took my first ORCSGirls class as a fifth grader in 2019. The first day I walked in and saw about twenty or more girls all on computers. Before this time I had never met any girls my age that were interested in programming and computer science. I took my seat and listened as Dr. Proffen introduced himself. Then, all the volunteers shared about themselves, and we played a game. I could tell I liked this already. We all opened  CoSpaces , a website for building VR games. My knowledge of how to operate a computer came in handy, and we soon got to work making a treasure hunt game. Even though I already knew a little bit about programming, I will not deny that I needed a lot of help. Thankfully, the volunteers were very helpful, and I soon got the hang of the CoSpaces environment. I left that cl

Girls Teach Tech partnership helps girls SOAR

Girls Teach Tech partnership helps girls SOAR By: Kaitlyn Nolte (10 th grade) and Sloan Mann (9 th grade) G-Force Robotics FRC Team #9008 is an all-girl, community based First Robotics Competition Team located in Clayton, North Carolina. We at G-Force Robotics have partnered with the Clayton library and Oak Ridge Computer Science Girls (ORCSGirls) out of Tennessee to offer free hybrid Girls Teach Tech classes as a part of our #FIRSTLikeAGirl and #GForceGirlsSOAR initiatives. In the simplest form, we offer these classes as a way to give back to our community. These courses are open to 5th-8th grade girls and this year our classes teach them everything from simple coding to 3D printing to the fundamentals of artificial intelligence. We started doing these Girls Teach Tech classes as a way to inspire younger girls and teach them about STEM.  We are so lucky to have ORCSGirls as a partner to help us with our Girls Teach Tech classes. After reaching out to Thomas Proffen, the founder of

Environment Monitoring Camp Recap

In July 2022, ORCSGirls ran the Environment Monitoring Camp for the second time. At the camp, the girls learned how to take environmental readings through a device called the ESP32-S2 TFT Feather . Using Adafruit ’s technology, they programmed a working sensor that they could access through their computers. They used Adafruit’s IO program to create unique ways to display their data. They also made an app on using an API from Adafruit. Two of the counselors, Katie and Kristen, are experienced with environmental technology. After participating in the camp, they expanded their knowledge to create a ProjectCSGirls entry. Now they’ve written about their experiences to share here. Katie shares her experience… “When I took the Enviro Monitoring Camp last summer, I learned so much about sensors and the environment. Afterwards, I kept exploring technology and took more environment monitoring classes. Eventually Kristen and I paired up for ProjectCSGirls and created a device using th

AI Robotics Camp Recap

It's a wrap. Twelve girls in grades 7-10 participated in our Smart Robots Camp held at the Blount County Public Library in Maryville, TN from June 27-30. This camp was originally scheduled for March 2020 and was the first event  Oak Ridge Computer Science Girls cancelled because of the pandemic.  During the four day camp the girls learned about machine learning, coding in Python and programming the smart JetBot robot, and teach it to avoid obstacles and follow objects or roads. Pair programming where girls team up and act as 'drivers' and 'navigators' working with the robots turned out to be a great way to learn and work as a team - in the words of Leah, a raising 8th grader " The Smart Robot Camp was an amazing experience where I not only learned more about robots, but discovered the possibilities of pair programming and teamwork. ” Training the robots to avoid obstacles (and not drive off the table) or follow a road really illustrated the concept of machine