STEM Program for Parsippany Middle School Girls

PARSIPPANY — Shuba Prasadh, a junior at Parsippany High School, and for as long as she can remember, she has been incredibly interested in computer science and technology. Thus, it wasn’t long before she realized that there is a gender gap in those fields – an issue that she knew had severe implications – and she knew she wanted to be a part of closing that gap.

In June 2018, Shuba applied for a grant from the National Center for Women in Information Technology’s (NCWIT’s) AspireIT program, which is a program that is designed to teach K-12 girls programming fundamentals and computational thinking in fun, creative, and hands-on environments. Her proposal was selected and she was awarded a $1300 grant from the organization to run an AspireIT program in Parsippany.

Shuba’s program, FemSTEM: Intro to Computer Science! (Click here) consisted of three Saturday sessions, each 4 hours long, and served 20 middle school girls. The program was free of charge for the girls, and they were also provided lunch, snacks, and free swag.

Many of the girls came in without prior computer science experience, but that certainly changed over the course of the program.

Shuba, along with her two co-instructors – Carolyn Reagan and Neha Deshpande – who are both seniors at Parsippany High School, taught the girls programming logic, coding with Scratch, creating webpages with HTML/CSS, and even cybersecurity.

However, they wanted their program’s content to go beyond just technical skills, as they recognized how significant a role computer science plays in our world today, and even more so in our future. Thus, they taught their participants the concept of interdisciplinary computer science (CS) – or how to combine computer science with their individual interests such as biology, art, and business. Additionally, Shuba and her co-instructors informed the program participants that women are a minority in CS, and that it can be challenging and intimidating at times. But they also made sure to explain how being part of an empowering community of women in CS can help so much. Lastly, they also taught the participants how to use CS to create positive social impact. The participants employed their technical skills towards this goal in creating and coding their final projects, which consisted of everything from interactive animations to creative web pages – and spread awareness of causes from battling climate change to promoting feminism.

Running this program was a transformative experience for Shuba, as many of her participants expressed how much they enjoyed it and were inspired and empowered by it.

Shuba Prasadh is passionate about technology – specifically combining it with various disciplines to create positive impact in the world. She is the founder of STEMFuture (Click here), an initiative that is creating accessible, next-level STEM education for the youth generation – centered around innovation, safety, diversity, and impact – to ensure that the STEM-filled future is safe and bright. Recently, she was selected as 1 of 25 national winners of the Ashoka and General Motors STEM for Changemaking Challenge, through which she attended an all-expenses paid summit to the General Motors World Headquarters in Detroit, presented STEMFuture to GM executives, and was awarded a $1000 grant from GM towards STEMFuture. Additionally, Shuba has received a Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award and she has also been named a national Daily Point of Light through the Points of Light Foundation.

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