This 12-year-old coder has a simple message for young girls with STEAM interests - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 6, 2019 10:53 am

This 12-year-old coder has a simple message for young girls with STEAM interests

Bianca Lewis says gender disparity in tech makes no sense. “Why do only men have to do this?”
Bianca Lewis knows Python and Arduino.

Bianca Lewis knows Python and Arduino.

(Courtesy photo)

Ask Bianca Lewis if she likes coding and she’ll tell you right away: Yes, especially Python and Arduino, but she hopes to one day dominate Ruby and C.

There’s no rush, though: At just 12 years old, she has plenty of time.

We caught up with Bianca, an energetic girl from New Jersey who’s passionate about STEAM and goes by BiaSciLab online, at a recent event featuring Girls Who Code CEO Reshma Saujani in an Old City hotel. Just outside the venue doors, as the event wrapped up and attendees lined up for autographs, Bianca was striking a similar note as Saujani: The inequities in tech make no sense, and they need to be squashed at an early age.

“I still don’t quite understand why men are the people who started everything,” she said. “Why did it end up being men striving for power?”

Bianca’s father, Eric Lewis, who works for Chester-based Power Home Remodeling, started connecting Bianca with tech in kindergarten, where she says she began to pick up the basic notions of programming using the Super Scratch Programming Adventure book.

The 12-year-old relies on social media and her blog to share her tech and science adventures. On Twitter, she’s showing off her soldering skills or daring conference goers to hack a network she set up. On her website, she’s giving a tutorial on how to establish an open-sourced cloud-based server. Search YouTube for her name and you’ll find her teaching other girls to write coded messages to their friends by way of cyphers.

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“I just want to learn everything because technology is the future,” Bianca said. “I like doing anything with technology and science because it interests me. If there’s something out there that I can do, I’ll do it. Why can’t girls do it too? Why do only men have to do this?”

Ask her for a recent project she worked on and she’ll tell you all about WaterBot, an automated irrigation system she made for a science experiment requiring a precise amount of water to be added to plants at certain times of days. Next up on the robotics front? A WaterBot iteration that warms drinking water for horses during the wintertime, and monitors their hydration.

We asked Bianca, a staunch promoter of the need for diversity in tech, for a message aimed at young girls who feel that a career in tech is not for them.

“Just try,” she said. “If you don’t like it, do something else. And look for something you love. If you love fashion, program something to do with fashion like a light-up dress. If you’re into soccer, make a soccer game. If you’re into animals, do like I did with the Horse WaterBot. I’ve always known I was free to do whatever, and I wanna help other girls to do whatever they want to.”

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