Flathead Valley girls take on coding

Code Girls United teaches fourth through eighth grade girls how to code.

Code -- it’s what makes computer programs run and smartphone apps function. And a group of fourth through eighth grade girls in the Flathead Valley are learning to write it through Code Girls United.

Code Girls United is a free program that seeks to empower girls in the computer science field.

“We’re trying to get them interested before they go into high school and then into their future careers,” Code Girls United volunteer Liz Bernau said.

No prior coding experience is required. Code Girls United teaches girls the skill through building apps.

“This is pretty much my first time doing anything like this,” coder Amanda Hutchison said.

Code Girls United has been in the Flathead Valley for three years, and Thursday was the first day of this year’s program. Girls started out by programming a smartphone app that made an image of a cat meow.

In the coming weeks the girls will team up to create their own apps.

“It’s awesome to see their excitement, their creativity and the apps they end up coming up with,” Bernau said.

Kyra Hutchison participated in Code Girls United last year. She was skeptical at first, but she said she loved creating an app.

“It just seemed a little boring to me, but once we got to the app challenge everything just clicked into place,” she said.

Hutchison said she worked with her team for four months to perfect their app and fix coding bugs.

Along with creating an app, the girls also have to present and market their app to their peers. Bernau said the exercise helps them build valuable life skills.

“We’ve had some really meek, shy girls blossom into such great speakers and presenters and just so passionate about their apps and ideas,” she said.

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