Herding Code 121: Sara Chipps updates us on Girl Develop It at one year

This episode of Herding Code Kevin and Jon catch up with Sara Chipps to find out how Girl Develop It is going.

  • Kevin jumps right into it by asking Sara about what’s been going on over the past year. Sara goes back to what was on their minds as they were first getting started with their first class, and how that’s grown to 6 cities worldwide, and their original New York chapter offers 20 classes a month with 5 teachers.
  • Kevin asks where the other teachers came from, and Sara spins a tall tale about flamethrower classes. Well, maybe it’s true, but I find it a bit suspect.
  • Kevin asks about where the classes are held.
  • Jon asks about how the money part works out. Sara explains how the class fees, donations, and teacher payments all work out.
  • Kevin asks Sara about about what tools they teach, and Sara mentions Aptana.
  • Jon asks for some success stories and Sara tells a few.
  • Kevin asks how many students go through several classes; Sara says they see about 25% frequent fliers.
  • Jon asks if there’s some measurement of how much the students actually learn. Sara explains that the classes include a good amount of hands-on work and homework, and that she and the other teachers continue to learn how to gage when students are getting lost.
  • Kevin asks if there are some students that just don’t get it, and Sara says that some students have a tough time understanding that a single missing character can break a whole program. Everyone commiserates about this fun part of software development. Jon speculates that young women may be missing out on some of the split between cold logic and reason because they don’t play enough video games.
  • Jon notes that a lot of real world computer programming involves problem solving and support network and asks if students are equipped with those things. Sara talks about how anyone watching her code will see a good amount of debugging; additionally she teaches students about how to use StackOverflow so they can get their questions solved.
  • Kevin asks how the curriculum and courses have evolved over the past year. Sara and Jon talk about the amount of time and effort involved in preparing decent training materials.
  • Kevin asks about changes in teaching approach over the course of the past year. Sara said she’s moved from code-only to using some slides, and that when writing code it’s important to walk through it in pretty good detail.
  • Kevin asks what’s been different from expectations, and Sara talks about both the amount of interest and community goodwill.
  • Kevin asks about how Girl Develop It has spread to other cities, and asks about how much of the content is shared between cities.
  • Jon asks about how the branding and design is handled.
  • Jon asks if there are advanced classes or seminars.
  • Jon asks Sara what sort of projects she’s been working on lately. Sara says it’s pretty much all Javascript lately.
  • Kevin asks if there will be a node.js class (drink!)
  • Kevin asks what’s next for Girl Develop It, which prompts Sara to talk about the first Girl Develop It hack-a-thon. Apparently these are like a guy hack-a-thon except with less pizza and body odor and more resort and catering.
  • Kevin asks if Girl Develop It could develop into a full time gig. Sara says that all the leaders love developing and don’t want to give that up, so they’re still trying to figure that out.
  • Jon asks how listeners can support Girl Develop It. Sara lists a range of options, including book, laptop donations, and meeting space. Kevin asks about cash contributions.
  • Jon and Kevin note that there are no West Coast US branches. Sara mentions that a bay area location may start soon.
  • Kevin asks about the 15% male attendance in Girl Develop It, and Sara explains how that works.
  • Jon asks if there’s potential for virtual events and video recordings. Sara explains that, while it sounds great logistically, it misses out on a lot of the most important aspects of the Girl Develop It classroom experience. They’ve got trial running in the Columbus branch, though, so they’ll see how it goes.
  • Sara teases about an interesting hack-a-thon project they did recently using the Aviary API’s called Stash Your Stash, which removes moustaches from photos because "they’re super creepy!"

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Herding Code 121: Sara Chipps updates us on Girl Develop It at one year