Kennesaw State University, Girls Inc. team up to help girls learn computer science skills



Kennesaw State University, Girls Inc. team up to help girls learn computer science skills

MARIETTA, Ga. (Jul 18, 2016) — Excerpt of Article: Clusters of rising third- and fourth-grade female students were hunched around laptops while improving their computer coding skills as female Kennesaw State University computer science majors rushed about answering the girls’ questions at Girls Inc. in Marietta.

This summer marked the first leg in the partnership between KSU’s Object-Oriented Owls’ — a student group composed of female computing majors at KSU — and Girls Inc., a national advocacy group and community center for girls. About 12 KSU students have volunteered throughout the summer to help teach girls as young as rising first-graders computer science skills.

Object-Oriented Owls President Kate Zelaya, a rising senior majoring in computer engineering at Kennesaw State University who lives in Forsyth County, said the KSU students are working “to find a way to engage them in computer science.”

The KSU students are using a $10,000 grant from Google to fund ways to teach younger girls about technology. Zelaya said the grant helped fund the costs of the programs, Lego robots and equipment.

The girls have learned how to code through using Made with Code — a Google-supported website aimed to peak girls’ interests in computer science — in addition to working with Lego robotics.

Corby Herschman, director of development for Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta, said the girls at Girls Inc. have participated in a six-week “Summer University” that allows the girls to learn more about potential college majors.

Khi Gaines, a rising fourth-grader who used to attend Fair Oaks Elementary School, said she has been learning about what she wants to be when she grows up.

“I like to use the internet,” she said. “It’s cool to build things.”

Gaines said she wants to be a beautician when she is older.

With devoted science, technology, engineering and math time daily, the girls have worked with the KSU students to learn more about computer science as a potential major and career.

Selena He, a KSU assistant professor of computer science, said the girls are developing their computer science skills based on their specific grade levels.

“We want the computer science education to start as early as possible,” He said.

Layla Ivery, a rising third-grader at Kennesaw Charter Science and Math Academy, said she likes coding, while Roniyah Witherspoon, a rising third-grader at Dunleith Elementary School, said her favorite part of working with the KSU students was building the Lego robots.

Herschman said about 81 percent of the girls come from low-income families, so Girls Inc. works to expose them to as much as possible to prepare them for their academic futures.

“A lot of them are also first-time college prospective students,” Herschman said.

Herschman said Girls Inc. is looking forward to continuing its partnership with KSU.

by Mary Kate McGowan

Name of Publication:
Marietta Daily Journal

Link to Article:


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit