Academic Excellence@TL's (AE@TL) new enrichment program, TLTalks has attracted a diverse range of speakers to inspire our students beyond the classroom. As a response to initiatives supported by AE@TL in providing access to computer science and technology to all student , this Fall we recruited two of the top women in technology to speak to our students: : Lisa Secant Deluca, IBM Master Inventor & MIT's Top Innovator Under 30, and Robin Hauser Reynolds, Director, Debugging the Gender Gap in Technology.
Both speakers addressed the lack of women and people of color in computer science and technology, and the importance of creating a pipeline of students to enter computer science and STEM paths in higher education and professional fields. A common point both tech savvy speakers identified as a barrier to girls entering or continuing in computer science is that there are very few females in computer labs--as labs are typically male dominated environments with very few role models. AE@TL's new speaker series put the spotlight on this issue to raise awareness of the lack access for all student to computer science at our school and in Marin.
Like most high schools in our country, TL falls in the 90% of schools that don't include computer science as a path in the curriculum or even as an elective class. "It is ironic that our school is located only about an hour north of Silicon Valley and doesn't have programming." said Craig Taylor, Head Mentor and Co-Founder, TLCoding Lab. "TLCoding Lab is our soloution-- a lunch time enrichment program-- that recruits all students. .... We see computer science as a necessary knowledge base for the 21st Century, and we are building a program and community that is inclusive to a diverse range of students--especially girls and students without access to the internet and tech ed outside of school." said Taylor. Why is TLCoding Lab attracting this diversity in their lunchtime enrichment program? Inclusiveness was part of TLCoding Lab's mission from the start.
TLCoding Lab now can boast that on most weeks, it has more girls than boys and about half of the students are from diverse ethnicity-- rather than the stereotype of nerdy white male students who code. Since TLCoding Lab's launch last March, it has worked hard to create an inclusive community to explore computer science and all things tech for all students. "We have more women parent mentors, than men... so from the start our program seems welcoming to our female students." said, Kelly Kaplan, Parent Mentor TLCoding Lab and Software Developer. Our online instruction through CodeHS attracts a broader group of students who might not otherwise explored computer science, as it is a weekly lunchtime enrichment program and not a class. Also, our innovative approach takes away the impact on grades or gpa as it offers self-paced learning. Our students explore computer science gradually and confidently building up logic and skill sets without required prerequisites or advanced math. Our students feel comfortable to explore and reach out to peers for support. "Even our Head Mentor is learning with our students, " said Maya Bartolf, Parent Mentor and Co-Founder, TLCoding Lab. This combination makes exploring computer science accessible for all. We hope to expand our program to be open daily for learning and innovation!
Industry professionals have provided wonderful talks to our eager young coders. "We offer a broad range of topics from app development to cyber risk management." said Craig Taylor, Head Mentor, TLCoding Lab. Thanks to TLTalks our students have had direct conversations with very accomplished women in tech! "Their message and example have really changed the balance in our lab and we are grateful to keep attracting girls and all students as it will be a valuable skill set to have for future academic and career paths!" said Marla Myles, Parent Mentor TLCoding Lab. TLCoding Lab welcomes everyone and any student can start coding at anytime during the year! TLCoding Lab looks forward to a year of engaging our students with speakers who are doing amazing things in computer science and tech! There is no better inspiration than getting encouraged by industry professionals who are so accomplished and were once high school students! Hats-off to the many AE@TL parent volunteers who invite speakers to share and inspire our students beyond our campus!