Carnegie Mellon's Women@SCS is an organization committed to encouraging, supporting, and mentoring others while increasing the visibility and impact of women and minorities in the Computer Sciences. Women@SCS sponsor outreach projects such as:
- Roadshows—interactive presentations by undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Computer Science. Presenters share why and how they began studying computer science, their current experiences, what computer science means to them now, and their future hopes and expectations. Presentations for middle and high school students include a guessing game, a slide show of computer science applications, algorithm style puzzles, and a robot demo.
- Tours—site visits to Cargnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center and Robotics Labs.
- Creative Technology Nights, known as TechNights—a series of workshops which use computer animation, web design, programming, robotics, and interactive medias to engage future generations of women in technology.
Dr. Carol Frieze, the director of Women@SCS, used funds from an AccessComputing minigrant to expand her program's outreach efforts to include students from the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD). Funds were used to cover the cost of sign language interpreters, transportation, and program materials for students from WPSD to participate in the activities described above.
Project staff reported that as they worked to combine hearing students with students with hearing impairments they "learned a lot about including hard of hearing children". "It was not as difficult as we had anticipated. Children with hearing difficulties are children first (they happen to have some special needs but these can be worked out)." When students were asked to describe one new thing they learned at TechNights replies included: "I can program a robot to move by computer.", "I didn't know that robots go to the moon, I thought only astronauts.", and "I learned how robots can read or think, like 0101010010101, and how you need to tell it more specific what to do."
Roadshows, Tours, and TechNights for Children with Hearing Impairments is a promising practice in including students who are deaf and hard of hearing in computing activities through exposure and skill building opportunities. Success is demonstrated by the fact that the participants chose to attend TechNights again the following year along side their hearing peers.
For more information on the outreach activities of Women@SCS visit http://www.women.cs.cmu.edu/What/Outreach/ or read the Roadshows, Tours, and TechNights for Children with Hearing Impairments replication package.