Getting Started

Create an application

You can use Google forms to create an online application to find out how many students are interested in joining Sisters Rise Up 4 CS. See https://www.google.com/forms/about/ for how to do this. We use Survey Monkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com) and our application for 2015-2016 can be seen at https://www.dropbox.com/s/jvfjv4tw9h948ch/Sisters%20Rise%20Up%20-%202015-2016-application.pdf?dl=0

We recommend gathering the following information on the application:

  • student’s name (first and last), email address, cell phone number
  • parent or guardian’s name (first and last), email address, cell phone number, and field that s/he works in
  • student’s grade, gender, ethnicity (check all that apply)
  • student’s school name and teacher name
  • prior programming experience (course names, languages, tools)
  • why she is interested in joining Sisters Rise Up 4 CS
  • if she plans to go to college and if so her first and second choice of major
  • what Java IDE is she using in her course?
  • what book is she using in her course?
  • what topics has she already covered in her course or does she already know (variables, conditionals, loops, one-dimensional arrays, two-dimensional arrays, lists, searching, sorting, classes and objects, methods, constructors, inheritance, polymorphism, abstract classes, interfaces, and recursion).
  • is she on free or reduced lunch (optional)
  • what is the name of the last math class she took and what was her grade in it (optional)
  • how would she like to be contacted (email, group-me, facebook, etc)

Recruit participants

You need to find out if you have enough women taking the Advanced Placement Computer Science A course nearby who are interested in the project to make it worth offering Sisters Rise Up 4 CS (we recommend at least 12). The in-person sessions are important for allowing the participants to get to know each other and the undergraduate student leaders. They are also an important exposure to a college or university campus. You can find local schools who offered AP CS A the previous year at https://apcourseaudit.epiconline.org/ledger/

AP CS A course ledger

Figure 1: The AP CS A course ledger

To use the course ledger select “Computer Science A” as the subject. Select the previous year. Select your state or province. Enter your city name or leave this blank to see all in the state. Then click search. This will give you the names and addresses of the schools who passed the audit to be allowed to offer AP CS A. You may need to go to the school’s website to find the AP CS A teacher and his or her contact information.

Contact the local Computer Science Teachers Association chapter and ask them to get the word out about Sisters Rise Up 4 CS to teachers and students. They may already have a list of Advanced Placement CS A teachers. See http://www.csta.acm.org/About/sub/CSTAChapters.html for the list of CSTA chapters. It helps if you can send teachers a flyer to post and hand out. An example flyer is at https://www.dropbox.com/s/4e8pn6ar889xa5m/Sisters%2520Rise%2520Up%255b20%255d.pdf?dl=0

You might want to go and visit local schools to talk to the students in Advanced Placement Computer Science A courses. This is especially important the first year you offer Sisters Rise Up 4 CS. It helps to bring small items to give away to the students too like you get at career fairs.

Find undergraduate student leaders

We recommend finding at least 3 undergraduates to lead the webinars and in-person help sessions for 20-30 high school participants. They should:

  • know Java well
  • have teaching or tutoring experience or other experience working with younger people
  • be friendly and outgoing

You can check if they know Java well by having them take the pretest (in the Preface and Getting Setup section) in the Java Review ebook. They should get at least 10 correct (a higher score is better).

You don’t have to hire only women to lead Sisters Rise Up 4 CS help sessions. Males and females can both be effective near-peer role models. They just need to believe that women can succeed in computing. They shouldn’t think that you have to be born a geek to succeed in computer science.

As soon as you have identified your undergraduate students start training them.

We pay our undergraduates between $10 and hour for freshman, $12 an hour for sophomores, $14 and hour for juniors, and $16 an hour for seniors. We have paid undergraduate students $12 an hour at other universities that have tried to replicate Project Rise Up 4 CS. You might also be able to get student volunteers to do lead help sessions.

If you have an NSF grant you can apply for REU funding to pay your undergraduates, but you have to apply in the spring.

You might be able to get funding for your ACM-W chapter to do outreach to high school girls.

You could also look for local funding from corporations.

Train the undergraduate leaders

Georgia Tech is willing to help provide training on how to run effective webinars using Google Hangouts on Air. Send email to ericson@cc.gatech.edu to arrange training.

We recommend that your undergraduate student leaders practice doing hangouts before they actually do them with high school students. The undergraduate students should also start working through the Java ebook. They should also work through the small problems at http://codingbat.com and Practice It! at https://practiceit.cs.washington.edu.

Plan the kickoff meeting and first webinars

Pick a date for an in-person kickoff meeting. We recommend holding it on a Sunday afternoon so that it doesn’t interfere with other Saturday activities. We also recommend providing food if possible. We recommend getting started as early as possible in the fall, but we have had universities start in early February and they still had an impact.

Find a room that is big enough for the high school students and their families. Reserve a second room for just the parents and arrange for a person to give them a talk about the college or university and/or a campus tour. Reserve a room with computers or provide laptops, or ask the participants to bring a computer if possible since they will be taking an on-line pre attitude survey and an on-line pretest at the kickoff meeting.

Plan the first few webinars. Use the application and pretest results to help you determine what the students already know and what they need help with. We use google docs to keep track of what we plan to cover in the webinars and who attended the webinars and in-person help sessions.

Next Section - Kickoff Meeting