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Re: teaching young women in ways that suit them

On Fri, Dec 15, 2006 at 08:37:39PM -0500, Máirín Duffy wrote:
> Meike Reichle wrote:
> >So I now ponder how to adapt my style of
> >talking to this new situation. Thus, I am also very interested in what
> >experiences you people have with teaching/motivating girls/young women
> >and what you think should (not) be done in order to achieve this goal.
> This might sound really stupid but...
> This past summer I helped a co-worker give a talk to a several groups of 
> middle school age students (~12-13 years old) at a science symposium. 
> The girls in the groups seemed really interested in the talk and 
> participated a lot (raising their hands, asking / answering questions.) 
> What we did was basically talk about different career paths in 
> computer-science related fields, and then we gave a demo of 'computer 
> science in action.' We gave a basic explanation of how computer networks 
> work, then opened up ethereal on my laptop and pointed out the pieces of 
> an AOL instant messenger message that I had sniffed. We pointed out all 
> the different information (IP addresses, etc), finally pointing out the 
> message body to show how you could read the content of an AOL instant 
> messenger conversation between two other people.
> As if on queue, a few girls raised their hands and asked, "Can my 
> parents do this to read my conversations with my friends?" Yup! Another 
> one as if on queue :) "How can I stop them?"
> Then we explained how encryption works and gave a very simple 'rot13' 
> example. We talked about how encryption is not only important for 
> keeping conversations secret but also for business transactions and 
> banking to take place on the web.
> I think they enjoyed the talk and I hope a lightbulb went off in their 
> heads about computer science being a possible field for them to pursue. 
> I think the talk related to them because communication is so important 
> to girls at that age, and because it let them see how computer science 
> directly relates to their everyday lives. So for your talk, maybe think 
> about what kinds of things these girls like to do, and think about what 
> things in computer science relate to that. One thing I wish I would have 
> done was also give them something they could use to get started; eg 
> point out some books or TV shows or *some* kind of activity they could 
> easily do at home or in school (if they dont have a computer at home) to 
> start getting involved.
> ~m
Hi M,
that is what I was pondering... using the idea of 'boy' competition vs
'girl' socializing. You mention 'communication' as important. girls tend
to focus on things related to friendship, socializing(using texting, AIM
chat) , secrets (your example of AIM being cleartext) and cooperation
(some kind of group project). So if some exercise could include those
elements, maybe that would be something that would peak interest. There
are web 2.0 things like collaborative filtering (explain it) to find
people with similar interests (friendship). Maybe use RMS's example of
recipe sharing: ask someone to bring in a brownie recipe and get someone
to make a variant and notes the 'diff' between those and makes the
recipie with gpl-type attribution? Then there are projects from Make and
Craft magazine or instructables for things to do at home. I work with a
teenage FLOSS group and its been a challange to get anything that peaks
the interest of kids from 10-13 of either age. In the class kids are in
cliques and groups and they spent more time chatting with friends than
listening. Oh well.
Any way, it any of these are useful, do tell.
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