Report from Women and Technology “Coding 101” Workshop

[Enjoy this guest post by Jenna Marvet ’21, who attended the Winter Workshops held as part of the Rewriting the Code: Women and Technology initiative.]

On February 9, a group of young women from across W&L gathered in the IQ Center to learn together at the “Coding 101” workshop. Using a presentation based on the Netflix original series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Professors Mackenzie Brooks and Sydney Bufkin started with the basics, answering questions like “what is code?” and “how do I use Python?” After that, we were eager to get started coding for ourselves.

Beginning with the classic program printing “Hello, world!” many of the women wrote their first Python program on repl.it. From there, we moved onto variables, arithmetic, and string methods. Then came our first challenge: write a Mad Libs program. The user would input four words: a verb, a noun, an adjective and a curse word. The program would insert those words into a customized story, and it was necessary that we use string methods to ensure the curse word was in all capital letters and the first letters in the sentences were capitalized. Proud of their work, many participants swapped laptops with their neighbors to show off their final product.

Following a delicious lunch, we moved onto loops and conditionals. We tried out for and while loops, as well as nesting conditionals. As a final challenge putting everything we had learned during the workshop together, we programmed a Potion-Curse-Incantation game with rules based off of Rock-Paper-Scissors. We were engrossed in our work, trying to figure out the most efficient and effective way to code the program.

As the workshop came to a close, we reflected on how much we had learned in such a short time. Many of the students had coded for the first time. The support from the other women, Professors Brooks and Bufkin, as well as visiting computer science students, gave us confidence to try.

– Jenna Marvet ’21

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