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Girls Who Code camp brings computer science education to young girls across ME

Hosted through 'Educate Maine,' the program both teaches girls the basics of coding while encouraging themes of empowerment and sisterhood.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — To help young girls break through barriers in tech fields, one camp is bringing computer science education throughout Maine this summer. 

Girls Who Code is a camp and club designed to expand coding education to young girls across the country to help close the gender gap in the profession. 

Hosted by 'Educate Maine' through its 'Project Login' initiative, this year the camp popped up in Caribou, Brunswick, Skowhegan, Biddeford, and Portland. 

"We want to make sure that they feel safe and comfortable to explore that career area, and so girls who code is kind of closing that gender gap," Project Login Program Specialist Shelby Bryant said. "Together they're going to make a difference."

Girls are able to take on any kind of project that they want and work on them for the week-long duration of the program. 

This week, the group is creating projects spanning from self-made games to online fashion catalogs using programs like Python and Scratch.

"It feels good. It's like there are other people who have the same interests as me," 10-year-old Sophia Hatt said. 

In between, girls connect with real-life examples in their area of women currently working in tech fields. 

"We really try to encourage everybody to realize that they don't have to leave the state to continue this profession," Bryant added. 

To also help break down financial barriers, each camp hosted in Maine this year has been free to join. Each camper is able to take home the laptop they're using for free as well. That's thanks to donations from community partners, like 'Give IT Get IT' from Waterville.

Helping facilitate the program out of Biddeford's McAurthur Public Library is Joe Sanderson. Coming from a tech background himself, he agrees there is a great need for a new generation of tech thinkers in the state. 

"Maine needs qualified people to fill these jobs of the future," Sanderson said. "So building up that pipeline; we're not going to be able to do it if we don't include everybody."

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