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Sandy Journal

Waterford senior creates Girls Who Code club on campus

Mar 07, 2018 05:30PM ● By Julie Slama

Waterford’s Girls Who Code club members are creating a website while learning some coding concepts. (Steve Manning/Waterford School)

When Haley Hammock was a high school sophomore, she was introduced to Girls Who Code.

“I fell in love with it,” the now Waterford senior said. “It was an engineering world where I could strengthen my coding skills, which I’m passionate about and want to pursue for the rest of my life.”

Girls Who Code is a supportive club where girls can learn the concepts of loops, variables, conditionals and functions that form basic programming languages, Hammock said.

She liked the idea of the club so much she created a Girls Who Code club in December on her school campus. As an 18-year-old facilitator, she has a dependable 15 girls from sixth through 11th grade who regularly take part in the coding club. 

“I wanted the girls to create something in the computer science field and knew there were girls who wanted to learn coding and computer skills, but needed the encouragement and opportunity to learn,” Hammock said. “I also wanted to give back to the school that has taught me so much.”

Through the club, Hammock is teaching the girls to design and build a website, which she hopes will have an impact on educating others on real-world issues of gender equality.

“We’re hoping to show equality in pay and an information page to animation games so all ages can learn from it,” she said, adding that she hopes to have links to the page from the national Girls Who Code website as well as promote it on social media. “It’s fun to work on and hopefully, we can change the world.”

This isn’t Hammock’s first stint teaching. She has been an assistant teacher in two classes this past summer. But now the AP student who just completed her varsity cross-country season and is in the middle of her high school robotics competitive season as the head programmer has been finding the balance for her own studies as well as helping others.

“I try to have them problem solve and fix errors on their own. I want them to think it through and look first at common errors and steps to take each time something doesn’t work, not just come to me. It’s the basics of problem solving and learning coding,” she said.

Later this spring, Hammock will mentor other girls so the club will have high school–age and middle school–age divisions with leaders next fall as she plans to attend college.

“I want to pass on my knowledge to some of the girls who are energetic and enthusiastic about learning,” she said.

Hammock, who grew up in a “computer science world,” as she puts it, learned the programming language Scratch in middle school and entered high school with a love of math.

“I loved having an answer to a solution and knowing there are multiple ways to get there,” she said. “I loved science, too, but it was computer science and having the ability to be able to solve any problem I wanted by code that became my passion. That’s what I’m wanting to share with other girls at Waterford.”