Rails Girls + Lunar Logic = ♥
How old were you when you first started falling in love with… Ruby on Rails? How old should you be to start learning programming? Rails Girls Youth shows us that there are no barriers blocking you to learn Ruby on Rails development and you can start very early. WebMuses (who organize Rails Girls events in Krakow) invited 40 girls from 13 to 19 years to a workshop on the 5th of April (but finally the youngest one was as young as 11).
What was behind that event? It was the first edition of Rails Girls Youth in Krakow, but Rails Girls is a series of workshops, which have been organized around the world (e.g. at Helsinki, Shanghai, Singapore, Tallinn, Berlin, Warsaw) since 2010. The goal is to open up technology and make it more approachable for girls and women. It was the third edition of the event in Kraków.
Lunar Logic has been a partner of Rails Girls Krakow since the beginning. We help with pleasure and when Ania Migas (who works at Lunar, but also is one of the RG organizers) asked who would like to be a coach in the 2014 edition 8 people were interested. It was an amazing event. Why? Below you can view opinions about the workshop from organizers, coaches and also from the coachees perspective:
Ania (WebMuses member & Rails Girls organizer)
WebMuses (myself included) organized Rails Girls for the third time. This year’s edition was different – we decided to dedicate the event to young girls (13-19 years old) who haven’t yet decided what to do with their lives – and it was a great idea! The girls were full of energy and enthusiasm. At least half of the participants of Rails Girls Youth declared that they would love to become programmers in the future. I can’t wait to see that!
From the organizational point of view, the greatest challenge was in choosing the girls, who all should have a chance to attend our event. One of organizers, Przemek, made a simple app that helped us to mark all the entries. Picking applicants wasn’t a problem of organization any more.
The other thing was finding sponsors, who would like to support our event. The point was to convince companies, that these girls are the future and that, soon or later, some of them would would start looking for the IT-related jobs. Somehow I convinced Lunar Logic to become a sponsor and they helped us buy lunch and tons of delicious cakes for the merry group of people attending the event. ;)
Hopefully, it won’t be the last Rails Girls edition in Krakow. And probably not the last one dedicated to younger girls. Everything went as expected, but we were super tired by the end of the day. Taking care of almost 70 people and making sure that everyone is happy is not an easy task. Tiredness didn’t prevent us from attending the after party which was linked with the WebMuses b-day party though. :)
Coaches point of view:
This was the fourth time I coached at Rails Girls and was really curious how it will be to work with such young girls. Actually, I was little bit scared too.
But the girls were wonderful, eager to learn new things, centered when needed, and they were catching on really quickly. It was a real pleasure to work with them. They were also more persistent than older girls from previous editions, maybe because they still have their “learning mode” activated :)
It was an excellent idea to organize this event for a younger audience and I hope WebMuses will continue their great work on both motivating and inspiring people.
The event was well prepared, all the organizers and coaches took their responsibilities seriously. However all that we, as coaches, received was a guide in how create simple Rails applications and sets of tips from friends who were coaches during previous editions of Rails Girls. We needed to figure out the rest by ourselves.
The girls were mostly middle and secondary high school level students who are used to learning in quite a formal way. This is completely different from how workshops and meetups for programmers usually work.
I think the most important challenge was to convince them that I’m not a teacher but just a colleague who knows how to use this strange Rails thing. This significantly improved the communication and added lots of fun and humour throughout the day we spent together.
I was totally exhausted after the event ended, but satisfied to see that the girls learnt the basics of HTML, CSS and Ruby on Rails. They left with ideas for creating applications and making plans about what to study next.
I was very impressed by how well organized the event was. The Rails Girls were working on it since January and everything was prepared down to the last detail. I’m also astonished that so many teenage girls were interested in programming and web development. They made an effort to wake up early in the morning and come to Kraków from far away. All of them were eager to learn. This workshop was a real stereotype breaker.
I participated in last year’s Rails Girls as an observer where I was helping girls and coaches with their technical issues. The idea of programming workshops seemed so cool that I decided to take part again. This time as a coach and a member of WebMuses.
My group turned out to be one of the youngest. It made me really anxious that my teaching skills wouldn’t suffice and I’d bore them to death. Fortunately, girls were great and understanding. They kept asking questions and pushing for more knowledge. It was really amazing to see their engagement in learning how to code. I really wish I could show you what we built during those 10 hours of hard work (we didn’t manage to deploy it to web :( ).
Just after lunch I ran a small exercise for the girls – Bentobox. The idea was to make them more comfortable reading technical texts and recognize popular technologies. In the end they were presented with a list of 10 tools, libraries and concepts (like PHP, Django, SaaS, jQuery, nginx). The goal was to figure out what each item was.
After a long day of work, all the coaches and organizers received lots of love from the attendees. Many girls mentioned how cool coding, the programming community, and finally, the workshop, are. We heard many statements about becoming a programmer. This was very inspiring and made me feel like I accomplished something big.
Coachees point of view:
Weronika (Paulina’s sister, 15 years old)
An open, friendly atmosphere and a perfect communication with the coach – it’s my one-phrase description of the Rails Girls workshop. Firstly, I had been stressed and was full of doubts, but finally I closed the workshop with a lot of positive energy and openness to the new ideas. I’m happy because of that as my first contact with HTML, CSS and Ruby on Rails was painless and with: such a great atmosphere, crazy positive people, comfortable working environment and… of course – muffins! :D
I strongly recommend Rails Girls workshops everyone, who (such as myself earlier) don’t know how get started.
Julka (Lucek’s daughter, 11 years old)
When registering for this year’s Rails Girls, I was extremely curious, and a bit scared too – is this ‘coding thing’ as complicated as it seems to be? Good for me that it wasn’t the first time I had contact with this kind of workshop – I accompanied my mum when she was learning how to code at last year’s RG. But how is it to actually be an active participant? It turned out that it’s a totally different experience – much more interesting! At first everything looked like a Chinese language class to me – I had to deal with these parts of my computer that I have never heard of, not to mention seeing them ever before. But thanks to the great coaches, minute after minute everything was starting to become more clear for me and all the ‘wizardry’ became less mystical than what I had thought before. However, there’s one thing I did not like about Rails Girls – that it ended so quickly :( I can’t wait for the next workshop that I’ll be able to take part in. Thanks for everything and hope to see you again soon!