September 2, 2021
An interview with Julia Herbst - mentor of the Python advanced course that moinworld offers for free via Lernen.cloud.
The Diversity in the tech industry is unfortunately still a long time coming these days. So far it is still a “boys-only club”.
Since there is a lack of skilled workers in this country, Germany even needs support from abroad. Yet there are so many intelligent girls at Germany’s schools whose potential remains untapped.
Why is that? On the one hand, because they are not shown the possible career paths, on the other hand, because they are given the impression that success in IT can only be achieved with good grades in physics and maths. But that is not quite true.
Julia Herbst no longer wants to wait for the female support – She takes her own initiative and gets involved to inform more girls and young women about this field and to discover, awaken and promote a possible interest. With the “Python for Advanced” course offered by moinworld via Lernen.Cloud from the Hasso Plattner Institute, she got the opportunity to lead the course together with other girls and pass on her knowledge.
In the following Interview, she shares her experiences.
Julia, who are you, how old are you and what do you do?
I’m 18 years old, I’m going to finish high-school next year and currently I am leading a programming course for students of different ages with moinworld.
Girls don’t often identify with STEM fields. How do other people react when you mention that you teach coding to other young people and that you are interested in these subjects?
The interest is actually increasing at the moment, I think. In our physics advanced course, half of us are even girls. Nevertheless, people sometimes still react a bit surprised, ask again to make sure they understood right.
How did you discover this course and how did you come to lead it?
I was recruited at the national competition for computer science (“Girls at BWinf”) where I participated. It sounded exciting, so I joined in.Do you have any experience being in the “teacher position”?No, I have never done anything similar like running this course. I’m still at school myself and will be doing my A-levels next year.
Do you have computer science at school?
We don’t have computer science as a compulsory subject, but in the uppergrades it’s possible to take an elective subject in computer science, which I’ll also be taking next year. It will only be for one year.
But I think there is now a larger offer for the lower grades, for example the subject “IMP” (computer science, maths and physics), a kind of combined course of these three subjects. But that is not obligatory either.
For school, I could only use programming only for lectures in maths or physics so far…
How did you discover your interest in IT?
As my father is a computer scientist and my brother studies maths, I have always been confronted with this field, so my interest in this area was also awakened.
A look at the participants: How old are they, why do they participate and how do they take up this educational offer?
The youngest are in 7th and 8th grade, so they are between 13 and 14 years old. But some are even older than me. Most of them already know a bit about the subject because they have learned the basics in an introductory course, which we also refer to. We have been in contact with the developers of this course and they have given us feedback for our more advanced course.Their motivations to participate are different, but mostly they want to learn new things and further their education, and they also have a lot of joy in doing so.
About the course itself: How exactly does it work?
A lot depends on your own initiative, because it is a “self-practice course”. We provide exercises, slides and learning videos. New content is released on a weekly basis. At our first video conference, however, we first clarified organisational matters. For example, the structure of the slides and the videos, as well asthe questions already asked by the students in the forum. Programming is simply more fun in a group than sitting alone in front of the computer with unresolved problems. In addition, they see who they are actually dealing with.
What is the duration of the course?
This is now our “Advanced Course”, which builds on an introductory course, but this one is not from us. Our course lasts exactly for four weeks. What do your participants want to learn from the course?The learning goals are very individual. Most of them want to prepare for the BWinf, but others simply want to further their personal education and learn coding. To prepare for the BWinf, there is also a special course that is designed exactly for this purpose. It also lasts 4 weeks.
How many students are taking part?
So far, we have 180 participants. That sounds like a lot at first, but not all of them are present at the conferences, because most of them work on their own. Unanswered questions are then clarified in the conferences. That’s how we make sure that each participant understands everything and doesn’t get left behind.
About your personal future: Do you already have an idea in which direction your university studies should go?
Of course I’ve already thought about it, but I’m not sure yet. But I can definitely imagine studying IT.
Would you say that you yourself also benefit from giving such an offer as the programming course?
Yes, definitely. I haven’t been programming with Python for very long myself, so I always learn something new at the same time. It’s also exciting to give lessons from the teacher’s perspective.
What is your motivation for getting involved in this way?
I want to pass on my knowledge and am enjoying awakening the interest of others.
contributed by Annabel Runge
Where to find moinworld courses:
You can find moinworld’s courses, like the Python Advanced course Julia helps teach, here: https://lernen.cloud/courses?q=moinworld. If you also feel like passing on your knowledge to others through moinworld get in touch: email@example.com.
Funded by the German government with funds from the “Digitalpakt Schule” (Digital Pact for Schools), the HPI School Cloud offers a secure digital learning and working environment that can be used to access digital learning content from different providers in a privacy-compliant manner. Moinworld uses this platform to create an advanced offering for girls on the topic of computer science and to provide the right role models.