Be aCoding AceWant to make change and have fun and learn some cool skills? Code away!Coding changes lives! Selin, 13, Turkey, used code to make a robot dog for the blind.By Ava Springsteel

Coding is such a versatile tool for school, work, and fun. To some, coding may seem intimidating or limited. But coding can be used to create so many incredible things! It’s easy and you can use it for impressive school projects and for personal projects.

I fi rst started coding a few years ago. I’m no expert, but I’ve really enjoyed my experience. I learned mostly at my local Girls Who Code (GWC) club. There are GWC clubs all over the US and Canada. Even if you don’t have a Girls Who Code or another programming club near you, there are plenty of books, including ones by Girls Who Code that you can get from the library. The books make programming very easy for beginners to understand.

Here’s one thing that can make coding easier from the start: Don’t be scared off by the various
“languages” you’ll learn to create coding projects. They’re all simply tools to create various parts
of your project. They don’t involve hours of studying—they’re just ways to quickly and
effi ciently translate your coding goals into reality.

For example, you may have heard of Scratch—it uses colored blocks of code to make games and apps. Basic HTML lets you build the structure or frame of your project—think of drawing a house you’d love. The CSS code helps you add cool details to your house, such as design fonts, colors, and borders. Then you can use JavaScript to make your site interactive with buttons, animations, or Python to make robots such as those used in LEGO robotic team games.

Last summer, I went to a Girls Who Code day camp in Boston. It was so fun! I learned a lot and made many new friends. We learned some basics in the fi rst week and in the second week, we joined with a partner to do a phone app that would solve an issue.

My partner and I came up with an idea for an app that would give users help with common problems such as procrastination, anxiety, depression, and boredom. It would feature live discussion boards so users could share tips and thoughts with others.

I made the user interface (the part that would draw a user to our app) and my partner made the discussion boards. Both were a challenge, and I was so proud on our presentation day of what we had accomplished. I also use programming for school projects, such as websites for projects. My fi rst one was a website about climate change for science class, which had a few links and images—it was simple but exciting to accomplish. More recently, I did a website for a story project, and was able to create a much more appealing user interface.

Now that I know how to make an app, I want to make more. And now that I know some basics, I can understand how websites and apps I see are created, and it inspires me to adopt new ideas. Plus, my excitement gives me hope that more females will be part of the tech fi elds where men still predominate. Maybe I’ll go into a tech fi eld when I’m older. Let's work together to close the gender gap in computer science!

Ava, 13, Massachusetts, likes to play video games, read books, listen to music, ski, and code.