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Free, girls-only computer science course being offered this January in Wolfville

A group of girls at a past Refresh Annapolis Valley event team up to complete the task at hand. RAV founder Michael Caplan said the tech organization is offering its Creative Computing course for free this year — with registration open until Jan. 2 — and will have a class dedicated to teaching girls only.
A group of girls at a past Refresh Annapolis Valley event team up to complete the task at hand. RAV founder Michael Caplan said the tech organization is offering its Creative Computing course for free this year — with registration open until Jan. 2 — and will have a class dedicated to teaching girls only. - Contributed

WOLFVILLE – A computer science course is offering a free girls-only class this year looking to inspire them to take on tech and plug into the possibilities it could offer them.

Refresh Annapolis Valley has offered its Creative Computing course to kids ages eight through 12 for a few years, and has made it free to join this year.

Kids interested in signing up can choose between co-ed classes, and one just for girls — something company founder Michael Caplan says is because there are still more men than women in the STEM-related fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Refresh Annapolis Valley founder Michael Caplan says the existing culture prioritizes men and boys operating within STEM spaces, so he’s hoping to give girls more opportunities.
Refresh Annapolis Valley founder Michael Caplan says the existing culture prioritizes men and boys operating within STEM spaces, so he’s hoping to give girls more opportunities.

“The reality is you can’t be neutral on a moving train — our culture prioritizes men and boys operating within STEM spaces. The game is skewed — it’s not neutral. So we’re trying to neutralize it by giving greater opportunities to girls who are typically crowded out,” says Caplan.

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Caplan says the course is designed to offer those participating a deeper knowledge and understanding of computer science that stretches beyond what public school curriculums cover.

This year’s program will begin in January, when students will begin participating in a weekly course for three months where they’ll work to build their own original interactive artwork, stories and video games — all of which Caplan says is a “stepping stone to the more advanced world of computer science.”

Refresh Annapolis Valley founder Michael Caplan wants to see “a larger industry shift, as other countries are seeing a culture shift.”
Refresh Annapolis Valley founder Michael Caplan wants to see “a larger industry shift, as other countries are seeing a culture shift.”

“We want to build a strong cohort of young girls and women going through computer sciences so we can get those few girls applying to a point where parents are equally excited for their girls, as they are for boys, to join this program,” says Caplan.

Caplan hopes more girls sign up this year, since recruiting them has been challenging in past years.

He also points to research and data that show positive role models are the surest ways of giving young women tangible goals they can see, and strive towards, within the STEM field.

“We want to see a larger industry shift, as other countries are seeing a culture shift. There’s nothing that advantages boys over girls in this field — if anything, women outperform men,” he says.

For more information about Creative Computing or to register, visit https://www.refreshannapolisvalley.org/.

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