Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2016.

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Darren Atkinson


Despite the growing importance of technology and computing, fewer than one percent of women in college today choose to major in computer science. Educational programs and games created to interest girls in computing, such as Girls Who Code and Made With Code, have been successful in engaging girls with interactive and creative learning environments, but they are too advanced for young girls to benefit from. To address the lack of educational, computer science games designed specifically for young girls, we developed a web-based application called Code Girl for girls age five to eight to customize their own avatars using Blockly, an open-source visual coding editor developed by Google. Girls learn basic computer science and problem-solving skills by successfully using puzzle-piece like blocks to complete challenges that unlock new accessories for their avatars.

In conducting user testing, we assessed the usability and complexity of the application and identified ways to better meet research goals of educating and inspiring young girls to pursue computer science. The overall feedback we received on Code Girl in user testing was positive, as a majority of the girls expressed an interest in playing the game again and playing more games designed to teach programming. Code Girl thus appeals to the general pastimes of young girls to interest them in computer science from an early age and hopefully inspires them to pursue computing as a career. The application, which though it can continue to be developed with even more challenges and clothes and accessories, and thereby teach additional concepts, is ready to be released to the public. Initial steps are provided to incorporate Code Girl into educational programs at local and national levels.