At the end of July, Weber State University will play host to a summer camp called Girls Go Digital, which focuses on teaching girls digital skills such as coding and designing.
The event will take place on campus July 26 through July 29 for girls ages 8 through 18.
Dana Dellinger, the Director of the Center for Technology Outreach, expressed that both she and WSU are enthusiastic about the event.
“We’re really excited to host Girls Go Digital here at WSU and in our community because of all the exciting things that these girls get to do,” Dellinger said. “It’s extremely hands on, and that’s what girls need.”
Girls Go Digital focuses on teaching skills in the areas of coding, designing and hacking. There are also several new additions to the camp this year including web design, pixel art and digital photography.
This is the first time WSU will be hosting the camp, which is partnering with the computer science program.
Dellinger said that the collaboration between the two is important because WSU does not graduate many girls from the computer science program. One of the goals of hosting this camp at WSU is to help change those numbers.
Rachel Ramsay, the founder and CEO of Girls Go Digital, said the camp is a result of her master’s program in graphic design.
“My program encouraged me to find a social problem and apply the practice of graphic design to help solve that particular social issue,” Ramsay said.
Ramsay said that since graphic design is related to both technology and computers that she began to explore other digital outlets to teach at the camp.
Ramsay is an assistant professor at Dixie State University in the Computer Information Technology department, and she also teaches digital design. Ramsay said she saw the problem of girls not being involved with computer science and technology, and she has used her skills and personal interests to help make this field more accessible to girls.
According to Ramsay, the reasoning behind starting from age eight is to start educating these girls while they are young so that they can enter into STEM fields with confidence and strong background knowledge.
Back in 2006, Ramsay began working on projects and a total of six girls became involved. Now, the number has grown to over 500.
That total number will not be on the WSU campus, but is instead spread throughout southern Utah at Dixie State University and Southern Utah University, and in northern Utah at Instructure and Junior Achievement, both in Salt Lake City.
A total of 70 girls will attend the camp held at WSU and 30 spots are still available. The cost of the camp is $295.
Ramsay said it is a benefit to the young girls to experience these camps on college campuses, as it allows them to have an idea and get a feel for what it would be like to attend in the future.
According to Ramsay, there will be professional staff from Girls Go Digital that will be all female and who have a large range of skills sets in the areas in which the girls will be taught.
Weber State was able to get involved with the Girls Go Digital program through the Hill Air Force Base STEM program.
“We connected with our partners down at Hill Air Force Base. They introduced us to Girls Go Digital and asked if we would like to partner with them,” Dellinger said. “So through them we were able to offer grants to some of the students in our community to participate.”
Ramsay and Dellinger both believe that it is important to have a large range of ages in order to reach more girls, show them degree options and get them involved early so that they can feel confident and capable in what they are learning, who they are learning from and the path they will pursue in the future.