Sixty-four Girl Scouts shouted that out loud multiple times on their last day of Geek Squad summer camp. It certainly was “cool, WAY cool.” When did middle school girls think that being geeky was cool? When did they start asking to go to “nerd camp?”
For four days this summer, the Kodosky Program Center in Austin was the site of Nerd Nirvana. Sixty-four middle school girls had a great time working with a top-notch team from the Best Buy Geek Squad. The girls played Wii games, danced to Dance-Dance Revolution and hunted down interesting pictures for their digital photo scavenger hunt. Amidst all this they also learned to build a PC from the individual components, created music using Garage Band and coded Web pages in HTML. The camp, created and run by the Best Buy Geek Squad, was a huge, loud success. Staffed by an equal number of male and female Geek Squad agents, the camp offered participants an opportunity to experience first-hand what fun it can be, to be a “geek” or “nerd.” Since most girls in this age group interact with technology as infrequent, inadvertent consumers it was wonderful to see them consciously engage in technology, as content creators and confident users of technology.
With school back in session, many of these middle school girls are making elective class choices that can affect the rest of their lives. They're deciding if advanced math and Java programming are good electives, if algebra and geometry are too hard. Their choices have less to do with ability and more to do with social pressures and being accepted in their peer groups. I do hope that immersing girls in a techno-savvy, techophilic environment with peers and role models caused a shift in perception. I do hope that the camp will make it easier for them to explore the right math and technology electives knowing that it’s cool and that there are other girls across Austin who are choosing this path.
Girls have always done what their friends do. I think that the Geek Squad Summer Academy gave a good cross-section of girls a chance to become friends and to explore technology with their friends, both new and old. Girl Scouts have always been leaders. I'm thinking of the ways in which this group of “geeky” campers will lead their friends, and the changes they will engender as they leave the camp as confident consumers and creators of technology, as true digital natives.
The Geek Squad Academy is part of Girls Go Tech, one of four focus areas guiding GSCTX programs. By introducing girls to technology at a young age, GSCTX is increasingly the likelihood that these girls will pursue degrees and careers in technology.