How Five Girls are Using Science & Code to Save the Earth

Earth Day is this Friday, April 22nd, a day to demonstrate support for environmental protection around the world.

To celebrate, we spoke to the winners of the Girls Code 4 Climate Contest from Altona Middle School in Longmont, Colorado about how they made the winning videos, their interest in programming and science, and how they're helping to save the earth!

Pictured from left to right:  Katja, Alyssa, Sreya, Sudhiksha, and Eilene.

Pictured from left to right:  Katja, Alyssa, Sreya, Sudhiksha, and Eilene.

Q: What was the most exciting thing about doing this project?

Katja:  Recording it was the most exciting and fun- especially the video for it was awesome.

Sudhiksha:  Recording was fun, but also really challenging because we had to fit everything under a 30-second time limit, and we had a lot of information.

Sreya:  It was exciting to know that information that we added to that video could actually have an effect and make the world a better place.


Q:  What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Sudhiksha:  For me, it was finding an idea.  It was hard brainstorming and coming up with an idea.

Katja:  We had to rush at the end to get everything in, so we couldn’t make it as good as we wanted it to be.

Alyssa:  It was challenging to research and find all the information.

Eilene:  We were rushed because it took us a long time to find our idea.  We switched topics three different times.

Sreya:  Storyboarding took us a really long time.  We had to figure out what we were going to talk about and how to write the script.


Girls coding
Girls brainstorming


Q:  What did you learn from this process?

Sreya:  I learned that we had to manage our time and not goof off as much, but that’s also what made the project fun.  

Katja:  We also learned how to storyboard a video.

Sudhiksha:  I’m going to focus more on what the project was about. I was really surprised about how high the stats regarding climate change are.  I just went with the crowd before and thought climate change might happen or might not.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but now I know.  In a few years - decades, Florida will be gone along with a number of other big cities.  It’s mind boggling.

Sreya:  Simple things like not mowing your lawn as much or using less paper - just those small things can make a huge impact to prevent the so-called “end of the world.”

Katja:  My family is very climate-active.  We go to rallies, we participate and learn about it, but I don’t think I ever realized before we made these videos that I was part of climate change - that I had caused it to happen. So now I’ve been making an effort to change.

Sudhiksha:  Since we made that video, I’m always thinking I shouldn’t use so much construction paper.  I remind myself that I should cut from the edges and waste less.  If more people watch the video, they could be reminded too, and that could make a big impact on saving the planet.

Alyssa:  Before we made these videos, I never took climate change that seriously.  Now I’m more aware of what’s happening.

Eileen:  When I was a little kid, I used to love wasting paper.  I would cut it up into little pieces and throw them in the air. Afterwards, I would clean it up and put it in the trash instead of reusing it.  Now I feel like that was such a waste of paper and such a waste of our climate and our future. Doing this video made a large impact on me.


Q: What did you like about participating in the contest and using the Vidcode technology?

Sreya:  The fun thing about Vidcode is that there are so many things you can do.  It isn’t like block (drag-and-drop) coding, which still teaches the thinking patterns.  But with Vidcode, you’re actually using code - JavaScript.  You put it into the video like blocks, but then it shows you the actual code you’re using.

Katja:  I enjoyed using Vidcode because it let me learn.  JavaScript seems really intimidating, and Vidcode’s tutorials made it less intimidating.  You can learn in a fun, non-stressful environment.

Sudhiksha:  Block coding for me was a challenging for me at first, because I didn’t know much code.  Vidcode, which uses JavaScript, was different.  The tutorials had little blocks that would show you what the code was.  You had the tweak the numbers and colors, and you could see the effects right away.  That was really cool.

Eileen:  I started with JavaScript when I was about six years old.  When I started using Vidcode, I was learning more about JavaScript.


Q: How does it feel to be winners and girls in a programming competition?

Alyssa:  Amazing!

Sudhiksha:  I love this feeling because many girls are not considered to be engineers or scientists.  I don’t like gender inequality.  I think that’s one of the top problems of the world. To win against 300 other videos is an honor, and it shows that girls can code.

Katja:  It’s like telling yourself that you can do things you didn’t think you could.  I started this project because I thought it would be a good experience and didn’t expect to win. When Sreya and I won the Runner-Up title, I started to think that I can do things and can make an impact on the world.  So now I’ve entered in a few different competitions.

Sreya:  When people use stereotypes like girls can’t do stuff, I want to prove to other people that I’m strong.  When it came to coding, I was a little frustrated at first, but it’s nice to know we can do it without that gender thing. We’re just sixth graders and we’re girls.  It feels amazing to succeed.

Alyssa:  We proved that girls can do coding and science! 


Earth day in school
The Girls Code 4 Climate Contest winners brainstorming video ideas

The Girls Code 4 Climate Contest winners brainstorming video ideas


Q: Will you continue to learn programming?

Katja:  I don’t plan to make a career out of programming, but I want to learn more.  This semester, I’m doing independent study in computer science class.

Eilene:  I view coding as a hobby.  I like making stuff like games.

Sreya:  I used to hate coding. I used to suck at it. When I came into coding class, the teacher made it so much more fun, and since my friends were in the class, that made it even better.

Alyssa:  It didn’t really mean to sign up for computer science, but as soon as I walked into class and met the teacher, my whole perspective about coding changed.

Sudhiksha:  I love coding. It’s one of my hobbies. I do it for fun.  I’m really interested in being a genetic engineer and that requires a lot of computer and programming skills.