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July 29, 2014

Google, Raspberry Pi and Kainos join forces to teach girls coding

Tech firms team up to support Girlguiding UK’s first coding camp.

By Duncan Macrae

Girls and young women involved in guiding headed to the New Forest, Hampshire, England, for a camp with a difference this weekend, as engineers from Google teamed up with digital solutions firm Kainos and charitable foundation Raspberry Pi to set the girls a digital skills challenge.

Guides and members of The Senior Section (aged 12-15) came from all over the South West for a hands-on weekend where they learned the basics of computer science. They used simple, inexpensive, code-it-yourself Raspberry Pi computers supplied by Google, as well as simple coding programmes like Scratch and AppInventor. Local tech firm Kainos sponsored the weekend.

Google engineer Caroline Yates and experts from Kainos and Raspberry Pi also attended the camp to provide mentoring and give talks on the opportunities and excitement of a career in technology.

‘TechAdventure 2014′, held at the Girlguiding’s Foxlease centre, featured workshops and mentoring sessions for 32 girls and young women, and culminated in a Dragons’ Den style challenge, in which participants competed to design the most innovative app for Girlguiding. Digital firm Kainos will support Girlguiding South West England to develop the winning app into a finished product.

Every year Girlguiding runs thousands of activities all over the UK for girls and young women aged five to 25 (four in Northern Ireland). This is the first time they have ever held a camp specifically focused on technology and coding and is spearheaded by a local Guide Leader and Principal Architect at Kainos, Lorna Hermin. She and Girlguiding hope that a successful adventure this weekend will lead to more similar camps all over the UK – the next camp is already planned for Easter 2015 in Belfast.

All the girls who attended received a ‘TechAdventure 2014’ badge, and a Raspberry Pi to keep. Google is providing a further 100 Raspberry Pi’s to be given away to Guides and members of The Senior Section all over the UK through a competition on digital.girlguiding.org.uk

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Jo Kerr, head of digital communications for Girlguiding, said: "The Guides constantly evolve and adapt as the lives of girls and young women change. We’re focusing on digital because we know how it impacts every aspect of girls’ lives. This weekend is a superb opportunity to help girls understand technology, and hopefully inspire some of them to consider a digital career."

Yates said: "I got into coding because I was good at maths and enjoyed problem solving, but there’s a perception that computer engineering isn’t a career for girls. This couldn’t be more wrong. It’s vital we show young girls that coding is fun, interesting and challenging, and a brilliant option for a career."

Lorna Hermin, guide leader and principal architect at Kainos, said: "The UK is quickly becoming a world leader in technology, home to innovative companies like Kainos doing great things. TechAdventure brings together two of my favourite things – Girlguiding and technology – in the hope that we can bring a new aspect to the Girlguiding programme and inspire girls to be part of the next generation of technologists and engineers."

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