Can an Arduino change the world?
Perhaps not, but that’s no reason not to try. An explanation:
For our elder daughter’s 11th birthday, we bought her an Arduino Uno with which to tinker and hopefully ultimately take over the world. No, really, the idea is to expose her to the simple notion that computers have guts (hardware) and that it takes code (software) to make the guts do something useful. Kids–whether girls or boys–should grow up knowing something about technology other than how to insert a plug into a socket or like a page on Facebook.
As someone who works in an IT environment, it’s also eminently clear to me that there is still a glaring gender gap problem in the workplace. Today a vendor presented their server lines to a campus audience, and other than the two women affiliated with the vendor, there were zero women in a room of 25 or so IT professionals. Zero. This isn’t to pick on my employer, nor is it a dig at the guys in the room (myself included), but rather a general observation about IT work settings, which are still overwhelmingly male in most any organization, particularly the closer one gets to core infrastructure such as networks and servers.
Will programming an Arduino to make an LED blink or play a tune turn my daughter into an IT professional? Who knows? At the very least, though, for her it’s an initial step toward breaking down the shroud of mystery that surrounds higher level IT work. The kid’s great at math and could follow wiring diagrams in grade three, so why not show her how deep the well goes. My hope would be that she develops no concept of girl’s work/boy’s work.