DAILY iNTERLAKE

MAY 11, 2022

By HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake | May 11, 2022 12:00 AM

 

 

Local teams place at app challenge event


By HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake | May 11, 2022 12:00 AM

The work local teams from Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls put in to develop apps addressing serious issues affecting teens earned them second and third at the virtual Northwest Regional App Challenge.

The challenge is an annual competition for girls in fourth- through eighth-grade organized by Kalispell-based Code Girls United.

For the competition, teams were judged on business plan presentations and demonstrations of apps they coded and tested for their target consumers. Judges were also provided with phones preloaded with the apps to try them out to better evaluate the technical side.

The Kalispell and Whitefish Coding Cats whose members include Sage Rohweder, Sylvia Blair, Willow Truman and Lainey Kneeland, took second place and received a $2,500 team scholarship.

The Coding Cats app, Perfect in Every Way, addresses eating disorders. The app informs users about eating disorders and seeks to support those with eating disorders to become comfortable in reaching out for help, according to the press release. App users may select how they feel, listen to positive songs affirming acceptance of their bodies, read encouraging quotes, watch videos and get tips on healthy eating.

The third prize winner of a $1,000 team scholarship was awarded to the Kalispell and Columbia Falls Count on Coding team made up of Eleanor Cantrell, Kiska Brassington, and Savannah Ackley.

Their app, Distract Me, addresses self-harm among teens which may lead to health problems and potentially suicidal behavior. The goal of the app is to help prevent self-harm by redirecting teens with a pong game, custom memes, custom movement activities and an artificial intelligence therapist bot that gives responses to users’ input.

Other app topics included: learning about endangered animals, reading analog clocks, getting support for teens in abusive relationships and fun ways to make friends at school.

First place and a $5,000 team scholarship was awarded to the Red Lodge Wild Mustangs team whose members are Marin Gallagher and Madilyn Novasio.

Their app, Wild Horses 101, teaches children about wild horses and owning them. Through the app, users learn about different breeds, ranges and care, according to a press release. Users then get to choose a wild horse and learn to care for them. The app is intended to help users gain an understanding of what it takes to care for a horse they might one day pursue in the real world.

Competitors also heard from First Lady of Montana, Susan Gianforte, who shared her personal story of becoming an engineer.

Code Girls is a Kalispell-based after-school program that teaches girls throughout Montana how to code, develop apps and present their work. For more information, visit www.codegirlsunited.org or contact Executive Director Marianne Smith at m.smith@codegirlsunited.org.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 406-758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

Carbon County News

MAY 5, 2022

Code Girls United
PO Box 8272
Kalispell. MT 59904

Top, Left to Right: Madilyn Novasio and Marin Gallagher, the Red Lodge “Wild Mustangs” team took home first place in the NW Regional Apps competition on Saturday, April 30.

Bottom, Left to Right: Bailey Shettel, Anorra Belston and Madigan Sullivan, the Joliet “Positive Peacocks” team gave a stirring presentation
and positive app to help stem suicides.

 

Red Lodge “Wild Mustangs” Corral 2022
Code Girls United App Challenge


By Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Wild is the word for the ride that two Red Lodge Elementary School girls went on Saturday, April 30, in competing in the Code Girls United NW Regional App Challenge. The two student team, 4th graders, Madilyn Novasio and Marin Gallagher, named “Wild Mustangs,” trotted away with first prize, a $5,000 scholarship to be split between the two team members. By means of an ingenious app design, titled Wild Horses 101, they told the story of the Wyoming and Montana mustangs and allowed kids to actively feel they were “owning”
a horse of their choosing. The app impressed the judges as terribly creative and clever. They competed against 10 other teams of 2-5 students. Code Girls United Executive Director, Marianne Smith, said, “The judges were thrilled with their app, the idea, the presentation, and the app technical design, and organization.” The girls said, “You get to pretend you own a wild horse!” Gallagher seemed stunned after they were chosen from the three finalists, saying, “I honestly can’t believe we won!”

The Wild Horses 101 app was created by the team as part of a challenge by the nonprofit, Code Girls United (CGU) to encourage girls in engineering. CGU is an after-school program based in Kalispell, that teaches girls in grades 4-8 how to code, design an app, and create a business plan. It is expanding throughout Montana and currently has teams competing from
Havre, Billings, Joliet, Red Lodge, and the Flathead region. CGU held the event online (CodeGirlsUnited.org) this year as a safety precaution.

The Wild Mustangs created their app at the Hero’s STEAM Center in Red Lodge. They worked hard twice a week, after school from Nov. 2021, through April 2022. CGU creates opportunities for 4th to 8th grade girls in technology course work, preparing them for successful high-tech careers. The goal is to engage student creativity and encourage their participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education fields. The free event is held annually and is open to girls in the 4th – 8th grade, composed of teams of 2 to 5 girls.In designing the Wild Horse app, the girls realized that with their mutual love of
wild horses, helping save them was a challenge worth attempting to solve. They found many kids like wild horses but don’t have ways to see them without depending upon their parents. The wild horse population is too high, leaving many in peril and many are hurt as they are herded. The team used a video to engage the viewers. Adding recorded wild horse
sounds made the experience over the top. Viewers pick a horse, pick the color and even name it. “I love it!” said one of the judges. “It was so interactive…me and my horse!” said another. A third judge remarked, “It might inspire people to go to places where there are wild horses and preserve them. Brilliant!” The team that came in second was the Coding Cats,
and the third place team was the Count on Coding team. Gallagher explained, “I did the coding (which she said was very challenging) and “Maddie did the business stuff…” Both the coding and flow chart were praised as detailed, complex and creative. In the future, they may add steps to “train” your horse, possibly gift another child the ability to see “your” horse and as one judge suggested, possibly donate to the efforts to save them. As people get learn more, perhaps some will end up adopting horses.

Joliet Schools students, Madigan Sullivan, Anorra Belston and Bailey Shettel, with their team named “The Positive Peacocks”, also competed on Saturday. They picked the challenging topic of teen suicide, with steps to help students in need. They were applauded for recognizing the need and for the use of their “Pea Bot” to make it fun for anyone to participate. In doing their app research, Bailey said they found “most tell people to call someone.” Their app goes way beyond. There is a game atmosphere “to reduce stress”
and to make someone sad have a smile as he or she seeks therapy. Bailey said she brainstormed the idea; Madigan designed the pea bot and Anorra figured out how to
make it work. Kevin Kriskovich helped them as leader at the school. “Incredible idea!” and
“Hard topic! Very, very well done!” said some of the judges.
Smith observed “They did a great job presenting their business plan!”

There were three Team Scholarship Prizes of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000. The goal is to engage student creativity and encourage their participation in Science, Technology,
Engineering and Math (STEM) education fields. The annual event was sponsored by a number of corporate entities and foundations, including one led by Governor Greg Gianforte’s wife, Susan Gianforte.  Gianforte was the keynote speaker, Saturday, sharing that she was a female minority when she began studying engineering at Cornell University in New York. She holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cornel, an MS in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley, and an MBA from NYU. She was introduced as an engineer, an entrepreneur, a mom and a philanthropist. Mrs. Gianforte shared that she was always a tomboy and felt comfortable around boys, often working on cars with them. Born in New York City to German immigrant parents, she returned to Germany as an infant after her father died. A few years later, she returned to grow up there. In school, she was able to accelerate in math; it was “very helpful.” Later, in a large public school she attended the first computer science class in the city, a precalculus class and honors physics. She met her husband, now Governor Greg Gianforte, when both worked at Bell Labs in New Jersey, while “at the donut table, giving blood.”  Mrs. Gianforte was always active, either raising
their four children, working with the Governor in tech or on their family foundation. After Bell Labs, the Governor went on to other ventures including Brightwork Development, which sold for $10 million. She worked at NNC/KPMG, where she was a senior manager until 1993. The Gianfortes co-founded RightNow Technologies in 1997 which was sold to Oracle,
in 2012, for $1.5 billion. In 2006, the couple founded the Gianforte Family Foundation
and she manages the finances.

CGU’s Smith said this year’s top prize winners, Red Lodge’s The Wild Mustangs, were exceptional in designing and creating such an unusual app. “It was fairly extensive and they did an amazing job.” Judges talked about the complexity of the app and the fact that it was
fun. One judge said, “I was halfway through the app before I realized it was educational!”

The future appears in good shape with such a compassionate, skilled and talented next generation.

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
March 9, 2022

Code Girls United
PO Box 8272
Kalispell. MT 59904

Kelsea Bemis

Code Girls United Native American Ambassador

 

Montana Tribal Computer Coding Grant Pilot Program awarded to Code Girls United


Code Girls United, based out of Kalispell, MT operating after school programs throughout Montana in person and online, was awarded a $50,000 state contract for a Tribal Computer Coding Pilot Project.

The grant award was the result of legislation signed by Governor Gianforte and  introduced by Jonathan Windy Boy in House Bill No. 219. The purpose of the program is to provide training and incentives to students in tribal communities for computer coding and computer programming courses that will prepare them for the workforce.

Code Girls United is working in coordination with the Office of Public Instruction to implement the pilot program in one Reservation High School with a future goal to replicate the program throughout Reservation High Schools across the state.

Students will be learning Computer Science concepts, coding, app making, and business skills as they progress to creating their own apps and participating in a competition. Code Girls United endeavors to create a program that not only teaches real world skills, but also builds self confidence and provides a path to future technology learning opportunities. The program will be tailored to include culturally relevant content based on feedback from Native Youth organizations.  Additionally, Code Girls United’s Native Ambassador, alumni, and volunteer, Kelsea Bemis, will provide an additional bridge and encouragement for the program.

Code Girls United is very excited to be included in the growth of Montana’s next generation of technology workers who are able to work and stay in Montana.

Code Girls United programs run year-long throughout Montana. If you would like to learn how to bring the Code Girls United program to your area, school, or organization, please contact Marianne Smith at m.smith@codegirlsunited.org  To learn more, or support Code Girl’s United please visit www.codegirlsunited.org .

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
June 2, 2021

Code Girls United
PO Box 8272
Kalispell. MT 59904

Josephine Morrison (11), Bigfork
Juliet Skinner (10), Kalispell

 

 

Code Girls United Kiwi Coders team from Kalispell and Bigfork is a Semi-Finalist in the International Technovation Competition! 


Code Girls United Kiwi Coders team from Kalispell and Bigfork, MT has made the Junior Semi-Finals of the International Technovation Challenge. 

The International Technovation Challenge started in 2010, and has over 20,000 worldwide participants in the online competition and 1,000 teams competing in the Junior Division. 

The Kiwi Coder team of Josephine Morrison, 11, and Juliet Skinner, 10, developed Sit With Us. The girls participated in Code Girls United’s first online program. The inspiration for Sit With Us was experiences with fear, bullying, and loneliness when going to a new school or trying something new where they didn’t know anyone. 

The girls felt that an app that helps people in social situations by introducing them to other people would help solve that problem. Their Sit With Us app matches people in a location or cafeteria who would like to meet people with a group of people already at that location who would like to welcome someone new. 

  • The app identifies their location and allows the user to request a seat. 

  • The user is asked a series of questions about general topics. 

  • The answers to those questions are compared to a group/table response to the same questions. 

  • When there is a match, both the user’s phone and the group/table’s phone communicate using the phone’s bluetooth function to identify each other.

  • The match is made, and the once lonely user now has a group to talk to and even a subject to talk about. 

You can watch their Pitch video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSQ6Wx5XEAo or their Demonstration video at:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmHif_Ob6iw 

Code Girls United is extremely proud of the hard work the Kiwi Coder team put into their creation. Our after school program combines real-world coding for young girls in fourth to eighth grade with practical business skills. And, our approach works: program participants have won scholarship money, statewide competitions, and won the Congressional App Challenge!

Studies have shown that 80% of girls participating in programs like Code Girls United have increased self-confidence in their ability to solve problems.  Additionally, 58% of participating girls go on to pursue further Computer Science or technical education. 

The Code Girls United program runs year-long.and is expanding throughout Montana. If you would like to learn how to bring  the Code Girls United program to your area, school, or organization, please contact Marianne Smith at m.smith@codegirlsunited.org  And please visit www.codegirlsunited.org  to learn more, or to support Code Girl’s United.

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Code Girls United
PO Box 8272
Kalispell. MT 59904

 

Financial Commitment from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to Code Girls United!


The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has made a significant financial commitment to support Montana’s Code Girls United! 

Their investment in our state and our girls includes a multiyear $112,000 grant. Code Girls United’s mission is to expand the future career opportunities of 4th – 8th grade girls through hands on experiences in coding, technology, and business.  The Code Girls United (CGU) program is year-long, and takes place online in the Flathead Valley, an advanced program in the CGU Kalispell office, and programs in Polson, Joliet, Belgrade, and Anaconda.  Each student learns the basics of coding and design work using MITs Appinventor to build their own app. The girls learn practical business skills and create a working Business Plan and Presentation

The program culminates with the NW Regional App Challenge on May 1, 2021. Every participant competes in the NW Regional App Challenge, the International Technovation Challenge and the Congressional App Challenge which CGU teams have won for the past 2 years. 

In the fall of 2021, CGU will expand to 5 new locations including the Browning School District, the Flathead Reservation Boys and Girls Club in Ronan, an expanded online program, and other areas in Montana. Please visit https://codegirlsunited.org if you would like more information or would like to support CGU or sponsor the NW Regional App Challenge on May 1, 2021. 

Marianne Smith, one of the CGU founders said, “We deeply appreciate the financial support from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. They are committed to the children of our community by supporting our after-school program, engaging and exciting young minds about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) which is the backbone of our technology world. We sincerely thank the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust for their financial commitment and support! They are making a difference in Montana communities.” 

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was founded by the late Melvin J.“Jack” Murdock, co-founder of Tektronics, Inc., was an innovative, entrepreneurial leader with business interests throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Upon his untimely death in 1971, his will directed three Trustees to establish a charitable trust “to nurture and enrich the education, cultural, social and spiritual lives of individuals, families and community.”

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust serves individuals, families and communities across the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, through grantmaking, enrichment programs and convenings that strengthen the region’s educational, social, spiritual and cultural base in ways that are innovative and sustainable. 

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
December 3, 2020

Code Girls United
PO Box 8272
Kalispell. MT 59904

 

Code Girls United Tech Trio team
from Kalispell wins the
Congressional App Challenge! 


Code Girls United Tech Trio team from Kalispell, MT has won the Congressional App Challenge for Montana’s Congressional district.

The Congressional App Challenge is a nationwide event that allows middle and high school students from across the country to compete against their peers by creating and exhibiting their software application, and is the most prestigious prize in student computer science. Winning teams apps are put on display in the U.S. Capitol Building.

The Tech Trio app DriveRight was developed as a result of the recent tragedy involving a young girl hit when a vehicle failed to stop for a school bus.  The girls felt there was a lack of understanding of the state driving laws.  Their app DriveRight helps new and existing drivers learn Montana’s state driving laws in a way that is fun and interactive. The girls conducted research with the Montana Highway Patrol and Montana Department of Transportation to develop their app which includes the following functionality:  

  • A Flash Card page with preloaded and user defined cards.

  • A Scenario Game with the most commonly confused driving situations. 

  • A Quiz page which contains the Montana Drivers Test questions.

  • A DMV near you finder.

  • A page with Montana state driving laws and helpful tips for drivers.

  • Watch their video entry:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NnNtGK5xrI

Code Girls United is extremely proud of the hard work the Tech Trio team put into their creation. Our after school program combines real-world coding for young girls in fourth to eighth grade with practical business skills. And, our approach works: program participants have won scholarship money, statewide competitions, and this is the second year in a row that a Code Girls United team has won the Congressional App Challenge.

Studies have shown that 80% of girls participating in programs like Code Girls United have increased self-confidence.  Additionally, 58% of participating girls go on to pursue further Computer Science education. Code Girls United mission is to expand the future career opportunities of 4th-8th grade girls through hands-on experiences in coding, technology, and business. The program runs throughout the school year, and has expanded to 4 Montana locations outside of the Flathead Valley, in addition to an online program, and an advanced program. 

Please visit https://codegirlsunited.org if you would like more information or would like to support Code Girl’s United.