NAIDOC Week: STEM.I.AM coding workshops help Indigenous girls learn a new language

NAIDOC Week: STEM.I.AM coding workshops help Indigenous girls learn a new language

NAIDOC Week: STEM.I.AM coding workshops help Indigenous girls learn a new language

Updated 5 July 2017, 16:00 AEST

Young Indigenous girls are taught how to write code to help close a digital divide as part of NAIDOC Week celebrations.

Coding + robotics = (black & deadly).

That was the message for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls aged five to eight who spent time learning to write code at the State Library of Queensland this week.

The workshop was organised by STEM.I.AM and the Girl Geek Academy and held at the library's kuril dhagun space as part of NAIDOC Week celebrations.

Managing director and proud Birri Gubba man Wayne Denning said the workshops helped the girls realise there were future opportunities for them in science and maths fields.

"Coding is the way of the world," he said.

"The more of our kids, especially girls, that are engaged in this space the more we can contribute to society."

It was the first time a workshop of this kind had been held in Queensland.

Mr Denning said the fact it targeted Indigenous girls was exciting.

"As Australia's first people, it's really a space that we can contribute and lead into the future," he said.

"[But] I think many of our kids are missing these opportunities."

Sarah Moran, chief executive of Girl Geek Academy, ran the workshops and said the response from the girls was inspiriting.

"The girls have learnt about the basics of coding, including algorithmic thinking and ways to tell the computer what to do," she said.

"It's important for all young girls to code, but especially when it's a group of just Indigenous girls coding; I hope they walk away knowing that girls can code and it's what we do for fun."

"It's been fun making games and learning more about virtual worlds," Nataysha Enqwirda said.

"We even customised our game to how we wanted it; I added sound effects and extra characters."

Penny O'Loughlin said her favourite part of the workshop was creating her own creatures.

"I like that I can make the game, do anything I want it to do, and I even made a unicorn so it flies forever."

Troy Casey, creative manager of STEM.I.AM, said he hoped the workshop was the first of many.

"When you see the statistics of Indigenous kids in STEM and then how many girls are in STEM and pair that together, you can see the need for this," he said.

"To see the amount that the girls have learnt shows how we can break down the digital divide."

The groups hope to roll out the workshops across the country in the coming 12 months.