The Programming Challenge 4 Girls grew from an earlier all girls program at AUT - going on to become a nationwide, and international event
In 1988 the Young Women's Programming Contest (YWPC), a contest for teams of two year 12 and 13 girls, was devised and ran for 11 years. Originally organised by Margot Phillipps, and later by Gay Costain. It also involved Anne Phillpot and Raewyn Boersen. Those 4 women, along with Jacqui Whalley, decided in 2008 to revive it, but for younger girls, using a more approachable language. Thus was born the Programming Challenge 4 Girls (PC4G).
The first contest was held for 20 teams of two at AUT, with 13 schools represented. Teachers attended the morning tuition and had a workshop on the various options for other programming contests, while the girls sat the challenge. Evaluations by the girls and teachers were overwhelmingly positive. The Proof of Concept was successful, and so it was decided to try and offer the challenge around the country. An incorporated society was established, and the first AGM to elect officials was held in November 2009.
The Competition ran at venues in Auckland, Manukau City, Gisborne, and Christchurch. Dates were consecutive to allow for the involvement of Dr Chris Stephenson in a series of workshops for teachers. (AUT on November 17, MIT on the18th, Gisborne Girls High School on the 19th and Canterbury University on the 20th.) Dr. Chris Stephenson, Executive Director of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), presented at all the workshops. This session was about the current state of computer science education in the United States - the skills crisis, why CS is a crucial academic discipline, the challenges teachers face in this discipline, the positive changes occurring, and what role CSTA is playing in these changes. Ron Elder ran a PC4G site at Gisborne Girls High School, and Russell Holland, parent of a student at GGHS and Managing Director of E-C Websites, generously gave his time and expertise to develop and host the first website.
Three new sites were added in New Zealand. Victoria University bravely took on about 30 teams, and Waikato Institute of Technology, and Otago Polytechnic became sites. Our first international site, Waterloo near Toronto in Canada was also established, and by all accounts "translated" well.
The same 7 sites in New Zealand as 2010, and Waterloo in Canada continued to host the challenge. The Central Auckland site was Unitec as AUT, and Unitec have agreed to host it each alternate year. The other 6 were Manukau, Gisborne, Waikato, Victoria, Christchurch and Dunedin. PC4G ran for the first time in Australia as QUT, the Queensland University of Technology, became a site.
A summer camp was offered to all New Zealand resident top gold medal winners. Victoria University hosted a 3 day camp (in conjunction with a Google CS4HS event for teachers) in January 2012. Fourteen girls attended from around the country with their costs subsidised by Google. The girls learned Python, mechatronics (arduino boards), how to write a phone app, how to analyse an algorithm, HCI, and the girls also battled it out on a wii.