CS KickStart is a one week introductory class in computer science designed for incoming freshman women at UC Berkeley. The goal of this week is to encourage freshman women to take computer science as a major or minor. During the week, participants learn how to program, listen to talks about the different areas of computer science, and meet other computer science students and professionals. The program targets those who are interested in math, science, and/or engineering but have little experience in computer science. CS KickStart aims to give them a hands-on experience that will reveal the creativity and power of computer science.
I designed CS KickStart together with Colleen Lewis. CS KickStart is based on a program called Schnupperstudium that I took at ETH Zurich. The Schnupperstudium program is really what brought me into computer science as a freshman and I subsequently helped organize it for several years. I had thought of replicating this program at Berkeley for a long time, but it is only after I talked to Colleen that we decided to do it together.
Colleen is a PhD student in computer science education and she specifically studies how to encourage more women to go into computer science. With my expertise in organizing similar programs at other schools and her expertise in education, we were the perfect match. We were fortunate to get funding from Facebook, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Google, NSF and Northrup Grumman and welcomed 24 participants in the fall of 2011.
The program was a huge success, and we already started to collect statistics on how it impacted our participants:
95% of participants agree that after CS KickStart that they have a better sense of what computer science is.
95% of partcipants agree that they feel more prepared to take their first computer science course at UC Berkeley.
95% of participants would recommend CS KickStart to a friend that doesn’t have programming experience.
90% of participants would recommend CS KickStart to a friend that does have programming experience.
86% of participants agree that CS KickStart had a positive effect on their motivation to pursue computer science.
81% of participants agree that CS KickStart had a positive effect on their confidence to pursue computer science.
We are now in the process of preparing CS KickStart 2012! We were happy to recruit 9 new CS KickStart members that will help us organize the next round of CS KickStart and hopefully keep leading this program in future. Check out our webpage for more information!