Girls Inc of Carpinteria Completes Santa Barbara County’s First Camp Alice - Computer Programming for Girls

Using Carnegie-Mellon’s Alice program designed to introduce middle school girls to computer program.

Santa Barbara, CA, July 30, 2008 --( Girls Inc of Carpinteria, a non-profit community organization dedicated to empowering girls, completed the county’s first ever Camp Alice for middle school girls. Camp Alice is a computer programming camp designed around Carnegie Mellon’s Alice program. Alice is an interactive 3D-programming environment from Carnegie-Mellon University. Alice was spearheaded by Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, who died this week of pancreatic cancer. The goal of Alice is to offer the best possible first exposure to programming for students by providing an intuitive, fun environment for teaching programming. During this course, the girls learned common programming constructs, basic algorithm design, and storyboarding of movies.

A survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA showed that the number of college freshmen interested in becoming computer science majors has dropped more than 60 percent over the last four years. The drop-off has been worse for women. They have never made up a majority of computer science majors, and since a peak in the mid-1980s, the percentage of computer degrees granted to women has now dropped to less than 30 percent.

“I was inspired to work with Girls Inc on creating a class for middle school girls which would provide positive exposure to the field of computer science” remarked Marti Ogram, volunteer. “Girls Inc has been an amazing advocate for nurturing young girls in areas of science, arts and sports. Camp Alice increases their role to spur young girls into these under-represented fields critical in our global economy. “

Designed with middle school girls in mind, Alice is appealing to their storytelling instincts and helps overcome aversion to programming. After completing the basic tutorials, the Girls Inc students jumped constructing basic stories filled with humor, mystery and intricate scenery. By the end the course, the girls were able to combine music and create an animated music video.

The Alice program is used in 113 colleges and at least that many high schools. Carnegie-Mellon in cooperation with Electronic Arts, the creator of the popular Sims game, will be releasing verison 3.0 in late 2008. This new release will incorporate the Sims characters and other program enhancements.

About Girls Inc:
Girls Inc. of Carpinteria is a member of Girls Incorporated, a national research, education and direct advocacy organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold.

With local roots dating to 1864 and national status since 1945, Girls Inc. has responded to the changing needs of girls and their communities through research-based programs and advocacy that empower girls to reach their full potential and to understand, value, and assert their rights.

Girls Inc: Asa Olsen (805) 684-6364.

Marti Ogram