What a great way to conclude Tapia Conference by coming together with the BWiC family and volunteering at a BWiC Gaming Workshop. The workshop was sponsored by the Motorola Solutions Foundation and facilitated by Errol and Chris from Hidden Level Games. They demonstrated and and led students through an interactive workshop using the game they developed called Beta. Beta is a game that encourages coding without kids really knowing they are coding. I especially appreciated this game because during regular gameplay gamers are using programming logic as they advance through the game while having fun and focusing on winning the game.

The day started with Danielle, founder of BWiC explaining what is Computer Science to the participants. Participants were engaged in a lively conversation of all the career paths available to them when pursuing computer science, in addition to intrinsic and external benefits of pursuing a career in computer science. Next, participants were given a brief exploration period where they explored the game, Beta. Soon after, Errol and Chris explained the key concepts that participants would use to build their own interactive level. After a brief break and acting exercise held by Victoria from Hidden Level Games, participants were off to plan their 10 second game and to build the game within the Beta platform. After time provided to build the game, participants demonstrated and played each others game, in addition to pitching their game to an audience of their peers and parents.

Participants left with the pride of building a game, but also felt empowered about their future in the tech industry. Participants learned about basic design-thinking activities and also got to learn about their inspiring mentors/volunteers in the crowd. Mentors/volunteers ranged from Professors, Software Engineers, to Product Managers, and much more. Parents noticed the growth that their children obtained and publicly thanked the volunteers and BWiC Organizers. Additionally, participants noticed their own growth, with one participant remarking that they do not typically public speak but attempted to do so in front of their peers at this event.

At the end of the day, participants were presented with a certificate and a bookbag of goodies donated by various companies represented at the Tapia conference. It was a great time, but most importantly the visible impact the workshop created by exposing participants to computer science was priceless. One parent summarized the event perfectly by saying, ‘You all did a wonderful thing….my son, who never wants to talk in public, was able to open up and real[ly] enjoy learning how to create a game and “sell it”‘

The next BWiC Gaming Workshop will be hosted after the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Will you be in attendance?

by Ihudiya Finda Ogburu

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