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Utah STEM Foundation Celebrates Girls Who Code Challenge Awardees

The Utah STEM Foundation announced the awardees of its inaugural Girls Who Code (GWC) Entrepreneurial Challenge in a celebrative ceremony at Recursion in Salt Lake City on April 25, 2019.

Loyal STEM education supporter and KUTV news anchor Holly Menino emceed the event, which drew Challenge finalists, their GWC peers and families, and community supporters, amounting to nearly 200 celebrants.

Offered in partnership with Carbonite, Comcast, Centeva and Recursion, the Utah STEM Foundation Entrepreneurial Challenge was launched to encourage greater female representation in STEM, as well as to inspire girls’ pursuit of leadership roles, entrepreneurship, and challenge them to aim for career opportunities in which women have been—and continue to be—underrepresented.

“Our economy, our society, we are just losing out because we are not raising our girls to be brave,” said Emily Ong, Senior Manager of Girls Who Code Community Partnerships and Outreach, who traveled from the nonprofit’s NYC headquarters for this first-of-its-kind event. “The bravery deficit is why women are underrepresented in STEM, in C-suites, in boardrooms, in Congress, and pretty much everywhere you look.”

Four award categories were offered, all calling for entries that best address contemporary societal issues (social, civic engagement, environment, etc.) and applications were open to Girls Who Code clubs statewide.

The four Entrepreneurial Challenge categories and respective awards and awardees (with links to Project Challenge entries):

Challenge Essay Award – open to 3rd-5th grade clubs

Challenge Essay awardees received framed certificates and $250 to expand computer science programs.

  • Riley Lewis (The Leonardo)
  • Vidushi Shelat (The Leonardo)
  • Alyssa Sweeney (The Leonardo)

Facilitator Award – open to all clubs

Facilitator Awardees received framed certificates and $500 to expand computer science programs.

  • Kelli Olsen, North Star Academy Charter School teacher
  • Ann Riding, North Davis Jr. High library specialist
  • Kami Taylor, Sunset Ridge Middle School teacher

Peer Mentor Award – open to 6th-12th grade clubs

Peer Mentor Awardees received framed certificates and $500 to expand computer science programs.

  • Susana Shadrack, 12th grade, UT5989
  • Kaitlyn Tenney, 6th grade, Elk Meadows Elementary School
  • Kaytee Tiede, 8th grade, North Davis Jr. High School

Project Challenge Award – open to 6th-12th grade clubs

The following three Project Challenge Awardees received framed certificates, a club trophy, and $1,000 to expand computer science programs:

App for NDJ — North Davis Junior High School Club
Their “Thunkable” app is meant to connect and engage students in school-related clubs, providing details not currently offered on the school’s website.

Facilitator: Ann Riding
Club members:

  • Madison Newhall
  • Kaytee Tiede
  • Katie Kent
  • Emma Peterson
  • Trin Waite
  • Brooklyn Thornton
  • Jessica Shupe
  • Celine Tucker

Brave, Not Perfect — Juab High School Club
Their “Beauty Run” video game provides common scenarios young girls face, rewarding them for opting to be “brave,” addressing self-esteem & confidence.

Facilitator: Krystle Bassett
Club members:

  • Alexis Nelson
  • Sariah Shoemaker
  • Kennedy Taber
  • Kylee Whiting
  • Leia Bassett

Elk Ridge Middle School’s Virtual 3D Tour — Elk Ridge Middle School Club

Their app allows students transitioning into the school a chance to discover what’s offered at the school, who their teachers are, and where to find everything.

Facilitator: Angela Hardy
Club members:

  • Abby Kilcrease
  • Emma Gibb
  • Isabel Wright
  • Isabelle Rogers
  • Katelyn Trimble
  • Kayla Reza
  • Laynee Bentley
  • Paige Butler
  • Rylee Hahn
  • Therea Collins

The “Most Marketable” Project Challenge Awardees received framed certificates, a club trophy, and $1,500 to go toward development of their marketable project.

PC Hack (Park City Hackathon) — Park City High School Club
The Park City High School Club launched their own hackathon, for girls only. Their goals is to engage more girls in coding, helping address the tech jobs gender gap.

Facilitator: Kelly Henderson
Club members:

  • Claire Oberg
  • Sela Serafin
  • Kirsten Keblish
  • Annabella Miller
  • Megan Guetschow
  • Natalie Fink
  • Hailey Hultberg
  • Anna Diamond
  • Ellie Anderson
  • Mia Li Cutler
  • Emma Greally

The “Game Changer” Project Challenge Awardees received framed certificates, a club trophy, and $2,500 to go toward development of their game-changing project.

Food4Good — Park City High School Club
 Their Food4Good mobile app aims to eliminate food waste by connecting local restaurants with food banks and efficiently facilitating the donation of food.

Facilitator: Kelly Henderson
Club members:

  • Claire Oberg
  • Sela Serafin
  • Megan Geutschow

“The Utah STEM Foundation is impressed by the caliber of entries submitted for this year’s challenge,” said Allison Spencer, Utah STEM Foundation Director.

In addition to generous support from Carbonite, Comcast, Centeva and Recursion, California Pizza Kitchen at The Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City offered a 20 percent discount to all Entrepreneurial Challenge Awards Ceremony participants that evening.

For more information about the Utah STEM Foundation Entrepreneurial Challenge, please contact: Allison Spencer at 801-520-5235 or aspencer@utah.gov.