The Saudi Arabian chapter of ArabWIC partnered with a local university in Riyadh, Prince Sultan University (PSU) for their annual summer program for teenage girls, titled “Teen Spirit”. The summer camp aims to provide youth – ages 13 to 16 years – with a vibrant program promoting creativity, innovation and provide girls with an opportunity to experience the fascinating world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The chapter’s mentoring coordinator, Aseel Alhadlaq collaborated with local ArabWIC chapter members and established a team for designing and delivering interactive sessions on computing and robotics. Held on the campus of Prince Sultan University’s colleges for women in Riyadh, Teen Spirit was conducted in the May 28 – June 6, 2016 time frame.
The ArabWIC team presented a robotics and arduino hands-on session. In this session, Arwa Alabdulkarim, Wafa Alrajhi, Heila Almazrou, Zahraa Alkhormi and Aseel Alhadlaq moderated the session and showcased several robotic creations that were designed and developed in the @HCI_Lab at KSU’s female section of the College of Computer and Information Sciences. Teens started out by learning the basics of assembling circuits, prototyping, design and programming, and then moved on to tinkering with arduino kits provided in collaboration with our partner lab at the Software and Knowledge Engineering Research Group (SKERG) at King Saud University.
For girls new to computing and STEM, this summer program provided a fun way to explore unfamiliar subjects, and the opportunity for potentially discovering new areas of interest. For girls already interested in STEM, they described enthusiastically how these summer camp sessions built on existing interests or knowledge and sparked interest in pursuing them further. Dr. Areej Al-Wabil, the president of ArabWIC’s Saudi Arabian chapter, highlighted the chapter’s involvement in the Teen Spirit summer camp in 2016 and its role in inspiring the next generation of future women technologists; “We want the camp participants to see the creativity and purpose in computer science – something that’s exciting, fun, and accessible – something they can take with them.” The mentoring coordinator for the Saudi Arabian chapter, Aseel Alhadlaq shared her experience in a recent blog post at the eMentoring website and emphasized the impact of these sessions on the participants in expanding the horizons of teens through hands-on activities.
Experiences such as these effectively encourage and inspire the next generation of women in technology and female STEM professionals, and for that our ArabWIC Saudi chapter acknowledges the generous support of Prince Sultan University’s Center for Community Service and Continuing Education (CCI) and the female section of the Software Engineering Department and members of the HCI Lab and SKERG research group at King Saud University.