Girls Writing Code: Andrea Mozo & The Sheros

Andrea Mozo is the powerhouse behind the forthcoming all-female coding club that uses games to empower 10-13 year olds with invaluable computing skills. Read on!

Tell me a little about the program.

I’m launching a girls-only gaming club in Jersey City. This club will be made up of super-powered SHEROS, who put the SHE in hero!

It is a safe, inclusive, diverse, and collaborative space that allows girls aged 10 – 13 to explore, play, and create digital and non-digital games. I’m partnering with Globaloria to pilot an 8 week program starting April 1st, 2017 at the Grind Coffee Shop in the Baker Building.

Every Saturday, the club will meet for an hour and half. Every Shero must bring their own laptop. The 8 week curriculum will be distributed to the Sheros and parents at the first meeting. Along the way there will be special appearances from female guest speakers who will drop by virtually or in-person to motivate the girls and share their experiences in the technology industry. By the end of the program, the Sheros will have a complete game, learn basic coding concepts of the programming language called Javascript, design characters using pixel art, and present their games to the club.

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There will be a special event held on June 3rd, 2017 at the Grind Coffee Shop in the Baker Building to showcase the girls final games. Each Shero will present their game to family, friends, and the community. All are welcome to attend.

My idea does not stop with this one 8 week program. I envision this club leveling up and providing various scaffolded 8 week gaming programs. By the end of the girl’s high school careers, I want each Shero to be able to showcase a portfolio of products as well as gain real-world experience in an internship within a STEM related field.

If your child is 10 to 13 years old and is interested in participating in this girls-only gaming club, please click here to complete the form. I will be accepting submissions until Friday, March 17th. Five girls ages 10 to 13 years old will be selected to participate in this pilot program at the cost of $500 each.

Why is it important to you?

During my junior year of high school, I met with my guidance counselor to discuss future plans. My guidance counselor recommended that I go to a small college, become a teacher, and a soccer coach. This moment has since resonated with me. I didn’t have the exposure to STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics) related careers, a diverse group of women mentors and role-models to look up to, or a place to build my self-esteem knowing I am capable of designing and creating any product I ideated. I will never forget how he made me feel and the fact that I was put in a tiny box.

All girls deserve to know that the sky is the limit. They deserve to invent, create, and design their own ideas. It is so important for girls to recognize no matter who they are or where they come from, they can make a huge impact in their community and across the globe. I want all girls to have the opportunity that I didn’t have growing up. I want to be a mentor for girls of all ages and show them the many possibilities, passions, and career paths they can pursue in today’s world!

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What’s your background in tech? Where are you from?

I am pursuing a M.A. in Design and Development of Digital Games at Teachers College, Columbia University. I currently work for an education technology company called Globaloria as the Senior Manager of Product and User Experience. At Globaloria, I wear many hats. I manage a team of Coding Coaches: recruiting, orienting, training, scheduling, mentoring, and providing feedback and guidance on job performance. I work closely with Classroom Support Specialists to ensure teachers are receiving the support they need. In collaboration with the Technology and Product team, I seek to improve user experience for students, teachers, and administrators.

Entertainment Software Association’s Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry found that 44% of women are game players but only 12% of women make-up the gaming industry. Female game designers still do not have a voice in this mega billion dollar gaming industry and I’m determined to change that. Our society needs more female game designers and developers to create different perspectives and tell different stories. It’s not only the gaming industry I want to make a difference in, but all STEM related fields. Only 25% of women who were in the computing workforce in 2015 (NCWIT, By the Numbers), 5% Of African Americans and Latinos make up the Technology workforce in 2015 (Ethnic Diversity in Tech), and 1% of Hispanic women were in the computing workforce in 2015 (NCWIT, By the Numbers). Research shows that children who play video games are much more likely to want to learn software engineering and computer programming than children who do not (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2006; Overmars, 2004).

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Game design is the gateway to learning essential 21st century skills like story-telling, collaboration, critical thinking skills, coding, and problem-solving, to only name a few. Young girls have a right to code, design, and create games. We need young girls and boys to know this isn’t a Super Mario age where a blonde Princess is in distress and needs rescuing. This club is for all of the little girls who have big dreams and want to invent, play, and make a difference in the world! The world wants to hear your dreams, stories, and wants you to express yourself through game design. (Picture me saying this and dancing to this tune.) To continue to read my work and ideas, follow my blog here.

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Interested parents can apply here. (Please reference http://www.urdoingitright.com in the box that says “Questions/Comments.”) Registration fee is $500 for 8 ninty minute weekly sessions beginning April 1. Students should bring their own laptop.

Posted by

Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

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