Middle School News

Middle School News

My Experience at Code Crush
By: Sally Joyner

This year I was selected out of a large number of girls from other schools in the Midwest to go to the University of Nebraska in Omaha for a three day event. This event focused around computer science, technology, and coding.

The first thing I did on this trip was tour FIRST DATA. FIRST DATA is a business in Omaha that makes and designs credit cards. We learned how code is put into credit cards and how the cards are designed and made. Next, we used a platform called Python Pillow and we learned how to use code. Code is computer programming. Python Pillow is a program language for an imaging library. We dragged images off the Internet and then we used Python Pillow to store these large files in small, bite-size pieces. These smaller formats can then be converted into statistical data through the code format. The following day, we attended two student sessions: IT Innovation and bioinformatics. In IT Innovation we creatively solved problems. We prototyped an app. We were given a problem, which was people dying from being on their phone while crossing the street. We were given the task to prototype an app to stop this. We were put into groups and my group came up with the idea of using tracking devices, notifications, and alarms to solve this problem. In bioinformatics, we learned about DNA. We extracted DNA from a strawberry. We were informed about how science and technology can be combined to improve our health. Something we learned was that DNA can be turned into code and then modified or engineered.

After the student sessions, we toured Flywheel. Flywheel is a company that designs computer software. Flywheel is different from your stereotypical office environment. The people were really friendly and glad to be there. There were good vibes and the vibe sent the message, “I don’t HAVE to go to work, I GET to go to work.” Dogs are welcome in the work space which really makes it feel like a family setting. We also listened to a panel of workers. Following the Flywheel tour, we visited Gallup. The Gallup organization takes surveys from around the world. They gather information and turn it into statistics through the coding process. This helps researchers develop ideas as to what the world is going to be like in the near future. Everyone around the world has different viewpoints. For example, someone in China might say they don’t like McDonalds where as someone in the USA may say they do. This could impact business decisions and where people invest their money.

On the final day, we took a class called Digital Forensics. This is a branch off from forensic science but it has to do with cybercrimes. We talked about how someone can use code to know when you took a picture and find the exact location. It is possible to track someone down on the Internet even if they think they are hiding. Even a credit card used by someone can reveal their whereabouts. The next activity was called Crowd Simulation, which was partially virtual reality. We talked about things you can interact with in a video game including characters and props. We put on the Oculus Go’s headsets and got on a fishing game. You would go out and try to catch fish. While doing so, we had to identify the things we could interact with: a fishing pole, a tackle box, and fish. Much of this experience can be attributed to coding. The final event was a tour of Union Pacific. It was brought to our attention that the direction and timing of train travel is controlled by computers through the coding process. Union Pacific will rely upon a workforce in the future that can support this demand for productive commerce. 

Overall, I found CodeCrush to be extremely beneficial. It opened my eyes to the fact that not many girls or women are in the field of computer science. After being in this all girl environment, I am now excited to learn more about coding. I hope to attend some of the summer programs offered by the UNO College of Information and Technology and I am considering a career with bioinformatics. 

By Sally Joyner, 8th Grade