Week 4, Day 3

I’m writing today from a new venue, the kitchen! How do you like the new digs? I have the apartment to myself tonight and I’m cooking dinner to celebrate. I am preparing my pasture raised pork chops and organic mushrooms, the variety of which I had no idea until moments ago. When I bought them last Saturday at the farmers’ market, they told me, but it wasn’t a name I had heard before, so I promptly forgot everything about it, except for that it started with “p” and had an “r” in it. (I think it’s funny (in the sense of difficult to understand) how our brains (well, mine at least) work – i can often recall parts of words or a faint memory of what it “sounds like” rather than the word itself. This happens to me a lot with names, too.)

I hadn’t looked carefully at the mushrooms yet, but as I pulled them out of the bag, as much to smell them as to visually inspect them, I thought to myself, “Golly, those look like oyster mushrooms.” I looked up oyster mushrooms on the web and poof, there the name was: pleurotus.

oyster_mushoom_fells
By Photograph by Aaron Sherman [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
Indeed, they are oyster mushrooms. Spoiler alert: The word pleurotus comes from the Greek “pleura” meaning side or rib (and is the root of “pleurisy”) and “otos” which means “ear” (been to an otolaryngologist lately?).  The mushrooms sorta look like ears, I guess.So there’s your etymology lesson for the week. I know you were going to look it up anyways, so I apologize for jumping the gun there, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.

You don’t mind if I eat while I’m writing, right? I don’t wish my dinner to get cold. It took a bit of time to pursue all that stuff above, so it’s ready now.

I imagine by now many have you have read, possibly even memorized, the article about our classroom that come out in the Chicago Sun-Times this afternoon. That’s Karen, Anna, Vanessa, and Dami in the photo. A nice article, overall.

A fair amount, say five or ten percent, of what we do in the classroom is media related. We are often taking pictures and video of what is happening. An organization like Girls Who Code lives and dies by it’s media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. (That should be enough that you can play all day.)

It’s very important to get the word out for a number of purposes. First and foremost, GWC can’t exist if there aren’t GWC. The girls in our class (and the classes around the nation) are having a lot of fun and learning a ton, and what better way to entice newcomers than to show that? Second, it helps GWC attract sponsors to help grow the program.

One of the biggest consumers of our class media feed (it’s not a formal thing, it’s mostly just a Google Drive folder with shared access where we put pictures and videos) is Accenture itself. (Hi, Kate!)  In addition to the public media opportunities like the newspaper article, they use it for their internal media. When your company has more than 375,000 employees, you have to communicate with them somehow. Even though the girls are sometimes kind of noisy in the corridors after lunch (this doesn’t happen often – they police themselves because they want other girls in future years to have the same opportunity they have. Still, they’re teens. ‘George promised to be good. But it is easy for little monkeys to forget.’ – H.A. Rey), they don’t make too much of an impact even on just the 4500 employees in the Chicago office. Our photos and videos help drum up interest in the program at Accenture, which supplies us with so many things, including mentors. In fact, this year there were enough volunteer mentors to supply not only more than twenty for our classroom, but enough others for two classes being held at UIC, which does not have a corporate sponsor or enough female technical employees to satisfy the need.

Looking back, I see I haven’t do it already, so I should tell you about the mentoring program Accenture has set up for us. They are really unbelievably good to us.

We have nineteen girls, and there are a few more mentors than that, all female, to help fill in as people go away on business or vacation over the summer. They very cleverly have set the program up as two-on-two mentoring, rather than one-on-one. This helps ensure that each girl really has two mentors, and there is generally a mentor they know even when substitutions are made. The girls and mentors meet over lunch every Monday for an hour or so.

Accenture has structured the program to be really beneficial to the girls in terms of college and career. Rather than run the risk of running out of things to talk about, they have given a theme to each week which helps the students pursue their goals. This week the topic was “Prepare for Resume Writing by Listing Accomplishments”. This is information we know will be helpful to the students, but that we don’t have any time to do anything with in class.

I had planned to write about our class guest today, Paul Barsamian, who told us about drones and their uses (besides military). As usual, the girls asked excellent and insightful questions. Quote of the day (from Paul): “Drones will soon be as common as laptop computers are now.” It’s not as scary as you think, there are a lot of friendly uses, too.

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