My Kode With Klossy team. (Image courtesy of Vivian Wang & Lyndsey Narvaez.)
Valencia High School

Bytes of Tech: My experience at Kode With Klossy, a two-week girls coding scholarship camp

Bytes of Tech is a column by Vivian Wang that highlights the role of technology in the lives of Generation Z youths and the ways that youths can bridge the gender gap in STEM. In this week’s article, Wang reflects on her experience at Kode With Klossy, a two-week-long girls’ computer science camp with a full scholarship.

A perfect blend of coding, insightful group discussions and community bonding are encompassed by the priceless moments of my first Kode With Klossy experience.

Kode With Klossy is a two-week-long computer science summer program for young women ages 13-18 to explore mobile application development or web application development. Students who are accepted into the program are referred to as “scholars” since each scholar receives a full scholarship to attend the camp at no cost.

According to Kode With Klossy’s website: “Prior to [Kode With Klossy] camp, only 2 in 10 scholars have computer science experience…However, as a result of their camp experience, 9 in 10 scholars say they plan to pursue education and opportunities in computer science.”

Kode With Klossy was founded by Karlie Kloss, a fashion model and STEMinist striving to bridge the gender gap in STEM by providing Kode With Klossy scholarships to young women to learn how to code.

My Mindset during Kode With Klossy

It was weeks before Kode With Klossy began when I checked my email and saw that I was awarded the scholarship to attend Kode With Klossy. I was beyond ecstatic to learn how to code a mobile app using Apple’s XCode and coding in Swift — Apple’s coding language for their mobile apps.

In the first week of Kode With Klossy, I was nervous to start camp. Many scholars at Kode With Klossy were returning scholars and so I was worried that I would not be able to catch up with the others.

Upon meeting Karlie Kloss during one of our panel talks, I realized that each scholar at Kode With Klossy has a different background in coding and that the beauty of this program lies in the openness to ask questions and to embrace the intellectual vitality of Kode With Klossy.

During the session with Karlie, she emphasized challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves to our full potential during camp. Although the entire experience was a virtual camp, I still felt a community connection with all 35 scholars in my camp.

The Structure of Kode With Klossy Summer Camps

A typical day maintains the general structure of opening circle, workshops, code along sessions, brain breaks, Culture of Tech discussion circles and then closing circle to wrap up the day. Each night, there are “night hacks” which are coding exercises to help recap the concepts covered from camp.

While emphasizing the importance of learning the language of our future, Kode With Klossy also promotes educating their scholars on the importance of “Culture of Tech.” During our Culture of Tech sessions, we learned about racial and gender disparities in the workplace and the role of women in the past, present and future of technology.

Each day, we focused on a different topic relating to computer science. Topics that Kode With Klossy covered include an introduction to Swift, conditionals, accessing the camera, functions, arrays, for-in loops, constraints, actions and outlets, classes and objects, core data, and Git and GitHub.

With a perfect blend of brain breaks and interactive code along sessions, Kode With Klossy puts so much pride into their programs as they place equal emphasis on community bonding and group learning.

The culminating project at Kode With Klossy is the final app. My team and I developed our app called “Green & Gleam” to promote environmental sustainability amongst Gen Z youth through sustainability challenges and resource guides consisting of eco-friendly shopping and dining options. Our tech stack to make our app, Green & Gleam, consisted of XCode, GitHub, Repl, Swift and macOS.

My Takeaways & Learning Moments during Kode With Klossy

Now that camp has been over for almost a week now, I’ve taken this time to reflect on my personal experiences as a female in computer science and my role as a STEMinist. I’m learning to speak up for fellow female coders and I recognize the importance of media in educating youths about the opportunities that many females can participate in to gain exposure in STEM.

After participating in Kode With Klossy, I feel empowered to use STEM to do good for our communities near and far. When applying for Kode With Klossy, we were asked what we would do with our coding superpowers. I applied with an uncertain answer, but now I’m confident that I want to use my coding superpowers to promote environmental sustainability and change the world.

The beauty of interdisciplinary learning reminds me that I can double my impact on society by combining my passion for coding, journalism and nonprofit organization management to ignite change. Through my nonprofit organization, Linens N Love, I’m looking forward to fusing coding and journalism to promote environmental sustainability.

I appreciate the time and effort that Karlie Kloss has put into growing Kode With Klossy, especially since coding is an extremely niche topic that many schools in the United States do not offer. Karlie Kloss promotes educational equity and her national program has inspired several young women who now work for top tech companies such as Amazon and Google.

In the long run, I hope to also give back to my community in the near future, just like Karlie Kloss. She began by creating Kode With Klossy four years ago with only one camp of fewer than 30 students. Kloss’s pure intentions and genuine passion to bridge the gender gap in STEM inspires me to also encourage young women in my network to explore all things STEM.

This experience was beyond rewarding and I’m already counting down the days until next year when I can apply to become an Instructor Assistant for Kode With Klossy.

If you’re a young female with the slightest interest in all things STEM, apply for Kode With Klossy.

You won’t regret it.