The fourth annual CodeRED event for Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter (CJA) was held on December 12, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually over Zoom. Despite the challenges of a virtual environment, the event was quite a success! 

The CodeRED Day of Service is part of a global initiative to introduce millions of students to Computer Science. Taking place on the “International Day of Code”, CodeRED aims to expose, inspire and motivate more children of color, especially girls, to the world of computer coding and technology. There were 12 girls, ages 11-14, from the Delta Academy program who participated in the activity, supported by 9 volunteers from the CJA Technology and Delta Academy committees as well as a guest speaker from the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Our guest speaker was Erika Jean-Pierre, a graduate of the Rutgers University College of Engineering and Computer Science. Ms. Jean-Pierre’s major was Electrical and Computer Engineering. She was the only black woman in her 2020 graduating class of 250 students. Ms. Jean-Pierre talked about her love of math when growing up and her passion for introducing young girls to STEM.  She talked about the need for a strong support system in school as well as the challenges and experience of working as a minority engineer in a corporate environment. Ms. Jean-Pierre also spoke about the need for self-motivation, persistence and serving as an example for others to follow.

The class then segued into the coding exercises and students were assigned to one of 5 break-out rooms. We had two levels of exercises based on the experience and expertise of the students. Both coding exercises were taken from the code.org library of programs. One program was the Dance Party which used block coding to program the dance moves of various cartoon-like characters. This program really allowed the students to be creative and have a lot of fun. The other program was the App Lab. This program provided a good challenge for the experienced students and used block coding and Javascript to create a customized app.

Students were given individual accounts under code.org which allowed them to save their exercises and continue work on their programs in their spare time. We also created certificates for the students as a memory of their participation. All the students had a great time and learned a lot!