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Girls and Technology. How many of you sit up and take notice when you see both those words in the same sentence? Yes, that’s become the truth. And it’s kind of odd that it has to be the case in 2018! Isn’t it time that we did away with stereotypes, encouraged diversity and promoted learning, irrespective of gender? That’s precisely what happened at the 4th edition of the PayPal Girls in Tech and Kids in Tech workshop, held from May 7th to 11th, 2018, in Bangalore and Chennai.
I was honoured to be invited to attend Day 1 of the workshop at the PayPal Bangalore office. It was especially delightful since I was the sole blogger who was a part of the session, with my 11-year-old in tow. We spent all day at the PayPal office. Suffice to say that Gy didn’t want to get back home that evening!
Deepti of Robotopia.in kicked off the Robotics session which kept the kids mesmerised! Well, it is the age of the Avengers and the Transformers, after all. Also, can I just say that it was heartwarming to see her own two kids being completely hands-on and comfortable during the session, helping the other kids out with the technical aspects?
Watching robots is fun, am I right? This one of a ‘snake’ which hissed and ‘struck’ kept us all giggling for quite a bit! 😀
The kids then got down to designing their own robots with a quick assembly Robotics kit. Gy was especially thrilled with the programming part of the event where she managed to get it to move forwards and backwards using code!
It wasn’t just sitting and coding robots all day, though. After a sumptuous lunch, the kids were grouped into teams and set off on a fun treasure hunt through the PayPal office. I kid you not, they were literally running through the office shouting and screaming in glee and I wondered how the people were able to work!
When I asked the team later about this, they grinned and said it was a welcome break from the serious air of meetings and vision plans. They loved having the kids around to brighten up the office.
This was followed by a Science and aero modelling workshop by GyanPro Edu, a Bangalore-based startup that aims to make Science both hands-on and engaging for kids.
Vision behind PayPal Girls in Tech: A meeting with Mr. Guru Bhat
I also got to personally meet and speak with the Head of Engineering and the General Manager of PayPal India, Mr. Guru Bhat, who took the time to explain the vision and concept behind PayPal Girls in Tech and Kids in Tech. A father of two girls himself, he was very keen to ensure that children got access to tools such as these at the age when they can understand and relate to them.
Accessibility is the first step. To that end, it was heartening to note that they extend the Girls in Tech programme to the underprivileged as well!
Next came the concept of making technology fun. If learning is made hands-on, fun and interactive, children tend to learn better, have you noticed? That was what I observed during the 3-hour Robotics Workshop with Deepti too. The children were clamouring for ways to do more with the robots once they understood the science behind it!
We also talked about ‘Kids in Tech’. another programme introduced by PayPal a year after the launch of Girls in Tech. This happened due to parents explaining the need for inclusion and diversity in the workshop. PayPal agreed and decided to do so, with a great deal of success. Kids in Tech is in its 3rd year of practice.
Finally, Mr. Bhat made an important point. He explained that they provide the key and the gateway to technology while also keeping the ball firmly in the kids’ court. Meaning, they don’t push the kids to do anything which they are uncomfortable doing. Much like the real world, kids are invited to participate, speak up, share their ideas. Bhat acknowledges that there is a definite chance of more kids adapting positively to technology and the digital space when they participate in these workshops. He has seen the difference with his own children.
About PayPal Girls in Tech
PayPal has been conducting these workshops for the last 3 years with a great deal of success. 2018 was the fourth edition of the same.
- ‘Girls in tech’ is an initiative born out of PayPal’s long-term commitment to diversity and aims to foster nurturing a sense of passion and craftsmanship in future talent.
- The idea is to give the women of tomorrow an advantage in the technology space by handing them the tools to do it at a young age.
- Launched in 2015, the programme is targeted at girls in the 8 to 14 years age group.
Kids in Tech
- PayPal decided to also launch Kids in Tech in 2016, which involved both girls and boys as part of the week-long coding workshop.
- This was done, keeping in mind that tech is not gender-specific.
- The idea of diversity, inclusion and breaking of stereotypes prompted PayPal to incorporate this into their annual activity.
- This was the third edition of Kids in Tech and was aimed at kids aged 10 to 14 years of age.
Key features of the 2018 Workshop:
- Participants got the opportunity to learn programs such as Scratch, Python, App Inventor and Online Me.
- Girls aged 8 to 10 worked on simple code while the older kids worked on Robotics and more complex code.
- In addition, they spent the day at the PayPal office, shadowing a PayPal engineer and figured out how they solve real-world problems through coding.
- Workshops also included fun and related elements such as Aeromodelling, theatre, learning from TED-Ed talks, photography and public speaking programmes.
Disclosure: I was invited to be a part of Day 1 of the Girls in Tech and Kids in Tech workshop organised by PayPal India and write a review of my experience. This is a sponsored post but all opinions expressed here are solely mine and have not been influenced in any way.
*You can read my complete disclosure policy here.