Lessons in coding for the younger generation

PBS Twin Cities

More and more girls are learning about STEM.

Women are underrepresented in the professional fields of science, technology, engineering and math (aka STEM). As such, young girls don’t exactly feel encouraged to pursue those subjects. In recent years, many organizations have worked to combat this trend, including PBS. In 2010, the network created SciGirls, a show aimed at getting 8-12 year-old girls involved in STEM. The program was a hit, and soon PBS Twin Cities started looking for a partner to develop an educational game that could act as an online extension of the show. That’s when we got involved. Code Quest is the result of our collaboration.

We built an interactive, educational game from the ground up.

We had to take a lot of things into account when building this game. We mapped themes back to episodes of the show. We created animated sequences of “view only” storylines. We built interactive quizzes that reinforced the lessons. And we did it all from scratch. In short order, what started out as a paper prototype became a fully realized digital experience.

Results

The game was even more successful than we’d imagined.

Beyond the subject of coding, we also introduced concepts of spatial relativity, a topic that girls tend to struggle with at a young age. This new area of exploration presented a challenge that our test audiences met with confidence and ease. To quote one early user: “I really liked the game. I want to code when I grow up.”