Fairport Cyberettes get taste of computing

Visit exposed middle school students to new mentors and technology

Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

A. Sue Weisler

The Fairport Cyberettes, a computing club made up of girls from Fairport middle schools, worked with Women in Computing at RIT to learn about new technology and careers in computing during a Jan. 29 visit.

PHOTO GALLERY: Cyberettes visit RIT

The visit started with giggling and posing in front of a video camera. It ended with digital video editing, the creation of slick graphics and an understanding of new software.

But the most important element of the Fairport Cyberettes visit to RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences is the new world of possibilities it opened.

“I really like computers,” says Mykel’a Johnson, a member of the Cyberettes, a computer club made up of girls from the Fairport middle schools. “But I didn’t know they could do so much stuff!”

That eye-opening experience is exactly what Women in Computing at RIT hoped to accomplish when it invited the Cyberettes to campus on Jan. 29.

“We’ve been working with the Cyberettes throughout the year,” says Sandra Murphy, coordinator of Women in Computing at RIT. “We’ve been providing materials and activities for their club and our female students have visited their school to talk about careers in the computing field. We invited them to RIT to expose them to our facilities and get them thinking about computing careers.”

Murphy teamed with Sharon Mason, an assistant professor of networking, security and systems administration, and four student volunteers to host the visit. It made Jenny Piepenburg, a fifth-year computer science major, long to revisit her own middle school days.

“I want to be a Cyberette,” Piepenburg says. “It’s important to expose girls to what they can do in the field of computing at an early age. I didn’t learn about these types of things until I was in high school. And even then, I learned on my own. A club like this would have been really helpful.”

Each Cyberette was filmed in front of a green screen as they explained why they chose to join the club and listed their favorite hobbies. They then moved to a computer lab where they turned the footage into a short video production, complete with graphics and background music, using Apple’s iMovie software.

“These types of activities are extremely important for our students,” says Kerry DuBose, a technology teacher at Fairport’s Johanna Perrin Middle School. “The world is changing and we need to prepare these girls for 21st century technology.”