Coding to confidence

In the middle of summer, keyboards click, notes are scribbled and voices chatter inside a tall office building. No, this is not adults at work, but teenagers like KHS sophomore London Bielicke. Bielicke, along with 19 other girls on scholarships, practiced her computer programing skills for two weeks under the Kode With Klossy program in Downtown St. Louis. This program breaks down computer science for the girls, while also building confidence for them.

“I think the program definitely improved her confidence, especially in coding and technology,” Eileen Finley, sophomore, said. “ I feel like she has become more confident in herself and her intelligence. It’s helped her realize what she can do.”

In Bielicke’s computer science course last school year, 10 boys and one other girl remained in the class by the end of second semester. Bielicke said the camp appeals to her because of how the girls embrace coding despite all of its difficulties.

“Everyone in the camp is super positive and empowering toward each other. The teachers are amazing, and it’s all about learning from your mistakes.”

The camp features tasks such as code-along lessons, coding labs, and computer projects to challenge the girls. Over the two-week session, Bielicke learned how to code on six types of computer systems including JavaScript, Libraries, p5, a system for coding games, A-Frame, a program for coding virtual reality, APIs and Bootstrap. She then put some of these systems to use for her final project, a virtual reality program.

“This year we made a virtual reality website to help with stress and anxiety,” Bielicke said. “There are three different sections. One gives you randomized inspirational quotes. Another helps you breathe, relax and calm down. There’s another one where you can play a little game to get away from whatever you’re dealing with. With high school, finals and everything else can get so stressful, so I thought it would be something useful to everyone.”

Bielicke’s work ethic and character did not go unnoticed. After her first year at camp, she was offered a job as a teacher’s assistant for Kode with Klossy in Chicago. She noted how many opportunities she was unaware of before the camp.

“She told me when she was 10 years old that she wanted to go to Stanford,” Amy Bielicke, London’s mother, said. “She wants to be a computer programer, and she wants to work for Bethesda. Now as she gets older. I’m starting to see that that dream just might come true.”

For now, London will be just as busy. This school year, she will be taking AP Computer Science as a sophomore, a course normally taken by juniors and seniors. London also said she has hopes of promoting Kode With Klossy at KHS by creating an after-school club called Girls Who Code.

“London has always been really determined to get what she wants,” Finley said. “I think that’s a good quality of hers. I’ve never seen her give up.”