IMG_1789Last Friday Microsoft NERD (New England Research and Development Center) was pleased to host DigiGirlz Day for close to 300 high school girls from around Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

About DigiGirlz Day

During the event, students interact with Microsoft employees and managers to gain exposure to careers in business and technology and to get an inside look at what it's like to work at Microsoft. This exciting event provides girls with career planning assistance, information about technology and business roles, thought-provoking exercises, and interesting Microsoft product demonstrations. By participating in the Microsoft DigiGirlz Day, young women can find out about the variety of opportunities available in the high-tech industry and can explore future career paths.

Microsoft runs these events using volunteers across the country and around the world. You can find a list of the ones still to come at the Microsoft DigiGirlz Day website.

At this particular event I was asked to do a hands on workshop using Small Basic. The idea was to give the attendees a taste of what programming is about. I wanted to show them that imageprogramming was approachable, that you could have fun programming and to tell them about the opportunities for making a difference in the world by creating software. Small Basic is a great tool for these goals.  It’s free. It’s easy to learn. It’s easy to use to create cool graphics and fun games. Over on the right of the screen is the image we worked on in this workshop. When I heard a girl in the audience shout out “oh my God! I did it. It worked.” I knew we were on the right track with the workshop.

IMG_1790 Events like this are a small step in many ways. Having 300 girls made for a great event and we hope some of them were inspired to look at careers in STEM fields. But there are many girls (and let’s face it – boys to) who don’t get the chance to be exposed to the beauty, joy and excitement of the computer industry and other STEM fields.  But we do what we can.

Oh one other thing Microsoft in Cambridge MA does is a limited high school internship program. The deadline for applications is about a week away and it is competitive so if you know a student who is interested let them know NOW.