Even before middle school student Krithya Bharath attended the CodeGirls@Argonne camp at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory this summer, she already wanted to learn more about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) so she could make a difference as a woman in science.
“I became passionate about STEM after reading books and documentaries about people who help the world using those skills, but I feel that there are not a lot of people in those industries,” Bharath said. “That’s why I joined a camp specifically for girls, because I want to make a change.”
Even though she had a strong interest in STEM, Bharath initially lacked interest in coding. She already knew a little about computer science as it related to financial fields, but not much more. That all changed over the course of a week.
“When I first joined CodeGirls, I just wanted to get a small idea of computers, since I didn’t know much about them,” Bharath said. “But I learned that there are many different types of computer scientists and a wide range of different professions that use computer science, like Argonne’s nuclear research. After this camp, I want to go more into the computer field — maybe learn more about it and go to more camps — because it’s a quite interesting subject.”
Bharath’s newfound interest in and understanding of computer science — as well as her goal to increase the role of women in STEM fields — are testaments to the effectiveness of CodeGirls and Argonne’s STEM education programs. CodeGirls helps girls (rising seventh and eighth grade) acquire real-world coding and computer science skills, and see that they have much more left to discover.
“We start building the campers’ confidence immediately from day one,” said Argonne’s Learning Center program coordinator, Kelly Sturner. “We introduce them to more advanced concepts, like Python programming and physical computing, in fun ways that demystify these ideas, so when they have the opportunity to try something similar, they won’t feel intimidated. Most importantly, we introduce the girls to Argonne women who code, inspiring them to see what they too could be if they keep pursuing their interests.”
“When I first joined CodeGirls, I just wanted to get a small idea of computers, since I didn’t know much about them. But I learned that there are many different types of computer scientists and a wide range of different professions that use computer science, like Argonne’s nuclear research. After this camp, I want to go more into the computer field — maybe learn more about it and go to more camps — because it’s a quite interesting subject.” — Krithya Bharath, CodeGirls camper
In addition, CodeGirls creates a collaborative, friendly environment to highlight how many different people in STEM communities work together to solve problems, so that no researcher is ever truly alone in their endeavors.
“I enjoyed meeting new people and learning how they became interested in STEM and CodeGirls,” said camper Zuri Williamson. “This was my first camp, and the people here made the experience fun and interesting.”
Williamson’s favorite part of CodeGirls was exploring Argonne’s supercomputers and facilities on field trips.
“I thought that computer scientists just did things behind the scenes, so I was grateful to see how they actually do their work,” Williamson said. “This camp has been really impactful, and I definitely will do more camps in the future.”
The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility provides supercomputing capabilities to the scientific and engineering community to advance fundamental discovery and understanding in a broad range of disciplines. Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, the ALCF is one of two DOE Leadership Computing Facilities in the nation dedicated to open science.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.