We recently had the privilege of speaking to Lily Gulik, founder of GirlsWhoCode club DePaul #921. The Chicago based club was started on Feb 26 2015 and has students from 4th grade upwards. They have been using Fluid UI for their projects and were kind enough to tell us more about what they do and how they do it.

What is GirlsWhoCode?

GirlsWhoCode is a national non-profit organization. GWC programs work to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.

Why did you get involved with GirlsWhoCode?

I personally have a computer science degree on a scholarship from the Amoco/BP foundation (DePaul University, BS 1990). I got involved with GWC because I am very passionate about providing children opportunities, especially girls. 

Why focus on girls?

four girlswhocode girls working on their fluid ui prototypes

Girls especially need help:

  • Less than 1% of girls choose computer science majors despite 74% of girls in middle school showing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). GWC's vision is to reach gender parity in computing fields. We believe this is paramount to ensure the economic prosperity of women, families, and communities across the globe, as well as equipping citizens with the 21st century tools for innovation and social change. We believe that more girls exposed to computer science at a young age will lead to more women working in the technology and engineering fields.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. To reach gender parity by 2020, women must fill half of these positions, or 700,000 computing jobs. Anecdotal data tells us that an average of 30% of those students with exposure to computer science will continue in the field. This means that 4.6M adolescent girls will require some form of exposure to computer science education to realize gender parity in 2020. Girls Who Code has set out to reach 25% of those young women needed to realize gender parity. Girls Who Code aims to provide computer science education and exposure to 1 million young women by 2020.

How can we prepare our children with skills for the 21st century?

We prepare our children by providing them with skills that are needed in the 21st century! That includes computer science expertise, leadership, team collaboration and communication skills. In addition to being a volunteer instructor for a GWC club, I also teach boys and girls in a coed class at a Chicago Public elementary School (CPS) called Web Apps Club after school. Both girls and boys need skills for the 21st century that include hard (technical) and soft (communication, collaboration) skills, so I have a separate after school co-ed program called Web Apps Club.

Is it easy to teach computer science to children as young as 4th grade?

girlswhocode girls wearing award winning programming gloves

Absolutely! I teach in age appropriate ways, such as playing a Dance party program with dinosaurs and music, and then showing the code and structure of that software program, and then having the student herself make changes. Voila, that student is now able to program. Our GWC club is called DePaul #921, and we have kids 4th grade and up. I put a special incentive program that gave each girl a pair of neon colored "Coding Gloves" awards once they successfully completed the first 5 coding programs. We had 100% done by the due date. Our club got a late start (our first meeting was Feb 26, 2015 and our last meeting was June 11th). We completed 9 programs in 4 months.

What is the curriculum?

There are 3 different curricular that are very comprehensive. The curriculum consists of code programming assignments. Attendance and URLs to completed programs are submitted to GWC. Some Level 1 program assignments included:

  • make a program with a cartoon character do a square dance
  • create an art masterpiece
  • create a video game using AI
  • create a video cartoon
  • create a spy program to encrypt and decrypt messages
  • create a mobile app
  • write a program that changes based upon input from the user

What tools do you use?

girls using fluid ui to mockup their apps

We use Fluid UI and MIT's scratch and as much free software as we can. I founded this club without a budget and used my personal funds to run the club. Our kids are from diverse backgrounds, and most do not have computers at home. I hope to help change that.

Why did you choose to work with Fluid UI?

We chose Fluidui because the tool is:

  • easy to use
  • focused on mobile apps
  • affordable. We started with the free account features in an account and quickly upgraded to the paid features

Did they find the software easy to use?

Yes. The ramp up time was 1 hour. We only have 1.5 hours weekly to meet and I am the only instructor for 15 girls. Our girls love Fluid UI, and here’s a commercial they created for Fluid UI:

Message from GirlsWhoCode to Fluid UI

Did they mostly use it to make low fidelity or high fidelity prototypes?

The girls made high fidelity prototypes, and one even created a full-blown software application. Our girls worked outside the classroom, and many hours were spent on each program. From a user testing point of view, each girl's high-fidelity prototype is close enough to a final product to be able to examine usability questions in detail and make strong conclusions about how behavior will relate to use of the final product.

What kind of projects have the girls done so far?

We've built apps that featured themes like games, e-commerce, cartoons, history, makeup, adoption, fantasy, friendship, sharing and collaboration.

Here's a list of programs our girls recently created. We submitted these programs to a national scholarship competition and one of our teams won 3rd place. Our girls at GirlsWhoCode club DePaul #921 have the best imagination and creativity.

Virtual Makeup, Gabby, Age 10
Test the prototype
History Is Beautiful, Cielo, Age 9
Test the prototype
Your Boutique, Krista and Eliana, Age 10
Test the prototype
Animal Design Lab, Emma and Lucia, Age 11
Test the prototype
Dress a Unicorn, Josie, Age 11
Test the prototype
BE-You-Tiful Jasmine and Courtney,12 & 13
Test the prototype
You Go Girl, Morgan, Age 13
Adopt-A-Unicorn, Giselle, Age 10
Test the prototype

Covergirl app, Marissa and Sofia, Age 11
Test the prototype

Authentic Salon, Delilah and Adriana, Age 10
Test the prototype

Where do they get their design inspiration from?

The girls are inspired by their favorite hobbies such as video games (Giselle LOVES Minecraft and is now creating Mods), interests (Cielo is into history), sports (many are on the softball team) and their friends (all programs featured a sharing or social media feature with a QR code).

What do some of the girls hope to go on to do in the future?

Already, some have said they want to be computer scientists (Eliana, Giselle). All love the GWC club. I have a hard time getting them out of the lab at the end of the weekly meeting time, so I pack them up at 5:20pm for 5:30pm dismissal. I named our club after my alma mater, DePaul University, to inspire them to go to college.

About Lily Gulik

In my 25 years professional experience, I have worked for industry giants AT&T, Google, SAP, Oracle, CSC, Amoco/BP in sales and software development roles. I successfully grew revenues and target markets with new services and solutions in excess of $1B USD in my career. Most recently, I was the T-Systems Vice President of SI Sales, Americas Region (US, Canada, Brazil, & Mexico) managing & leading approximately 1,500 employees in sales & service delivery revenue targets in excess of $300 million euro annually. T-Systems is a billion dollar technology and services company owned by Deutche Telekom and sister company to T-Mobile. I also have start-up experience with Red Brick Systems that is now part of IBM. I started programming at age 14 while working at AT&T Bell Labs in Naperville, IL and won a full scholarship to college from Amoco, now BP. I have a B.S. from DePaul University in Computer Science and serve on the leadership council of DePaul in the College of Computing & Digital Media.

Contact Us:
Link to twitter page
Link to facebook page
Link to website
Lily Gulik on Linkedin
Email:lily@gulik.org