A local coding program for girls celebrated a huge milestone on Thursday (May 16) after teaching its 1000th student about the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
Junior at the Don Tyson School of Innovation, Abby Herrera is a mentor for the “Coding Takes Flight” program in Springdale. The original goal of the program was to work with 300 third to fifth-grade girls in the district.
“It’s really been exciting this year to see the growth,” said drone instructor at the Don Tyson School, Wade Ward. “Not only of the program but of our mentors, and also the students that we’re working with.”
Ward said the reaction from girls in the program has been overwhelmingly positive.
“They’re excited about the process that they’re working through,” Ward said. “They are jumping up and down, they’re excited. It’s like kids on Christmas morning.”
Sixth-grade mentor, Madelyn Xaysanasy, said she loves watching the process.
“It’s so much fun,” Xaysanasy said. “They’re not much younger than me, but it’s still so exciting to when they’re like ‘Oh my gosh! Now I get to show my parents what I get to do whenever I get home.'”
Ward says he hopes the program can also help the future job market.
“Women are really underrepresented in the STEM career fields,” Ward said. “Giving these young girls who may not see these types of opportunities in their current lives really should stimulate some conversations among these students about what their futures can hold.”
“I think it’s extremely important that women and especially young girls know that there’s nothing to be afraid of,” Herrera said. “Just because it’s a male-dominated field does not mean they’re inferior.”
Herrera says Springdale is just the beginning. There are already plans in place to expand the program all across the natural state.