Iccha Singh · Freshman at Montgomery High School · Montgomery, New Jersey

Iccha Singh · Freshman at Montgomery High School · Montgomery, New Jersey

“I was introduced to basic HTML and CSS in 6th grade and ever since I wrote my first line, I felt empowered to see my code come to life. When I got to middle school I looked for a community of people who shared my interest in coding and tinkering with technology. I wasn’t able to find any, and that inspired me to launch my own tech-club.”

This idea started off with 8 students completing Code.org, Codecademy activities and troubleshooting together. At the beginning of 7th grade I partnered with my computer teacher, and since then we have evolved into a 30 member community! The most recent season included unplugged and hands-on activities using Raspberry Pis, iPhones and a deck of cards. Additionally, we had interactive guest speaker sessions from professionals like the Founder and CEO of Major League Hacking, Wattvision and Tynicka Battle Design. You can check out a quick recap of the sessions on the “Activities From Meetings” page on the Techsters blog.

Starting the club created many new opportunities for me. For example, I was invited to join a FLL Robotics team at my school, where I learned to engineer and program EV3 Robots with the Lego Mindstorms software. However, as I was running Techsters I realized that I had a more administrative role and wasn’t actually coding on a regular basis. This is when I joined the More Active Girls In Computing (MAGIC) program. MAGIC paired me with a mentor who helped me explore my interest in the connections between engineering and coding. Their goal is to give young girls like myself, the tools and knowledge to be successful in what they’re passionate about.

While participating in MAGIC, I built a user interface in html and php using that can be accessed on other devices using my Raspberry PI’s IP address. Once I press the ‘Light On’ button, it links to my python code that turns the LED strip on. This code communicates with GPIO Pin 7 on the Pi, and either allows or blocks the current from passing through to activate/deactivate the strip. Now, I can turn on and off my lights with a click of a button!

Currently, I am working with Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker to create a platform that will inspire more middle school students to explore STEAM concepts and gain leadership skills. With his support I am designing a playbook to create Techsters~like experiences throughout several middle schools. My biggest takeaway from creating Techsters is: If you see that there is something missing be confident enough to fill in the gap. I am designing this program to help participants build confidence, gain experience, learn and have lots of fun doing it!

I strongly encourage everyone to embrace their inner geek. I’m excited that this is just the beginning!