After a suggestion from a friend a few weeks ago, this weekend I got away from revision to spend an afternoon at FACT with the lovely people from Manchester Girl Geeks as they brought their Girl Geeks Tea Party to Liverpool for one day only.

Manchester Girl Geeks were born out of the Girl Geek Dinners, now held worldwide, and host activities ranging from science themed cakes to maths experiments to somewhat dubious fancy dress parties. In collaboration with the Open Curate It project at FACT and design agency Mercy, the order of the afternoon was an Introduction to Coding with Kat Reeve.

Having played with a little bit of HTML (which I now know is a markup language, not a programming one!) over in the blogging world, and sampled a few of the Codecademy Code Year tutorials, I was keen to see what I could learn.

Welcomed into the swish media suite upstairs, we were given an introduction to the whole Girl Geeks concept and the history of coding before launching into some JavaScript teaching with the Codecademy tutorials. One of the flaws I have found with Codecademy is that it is easy to make things work and move on, instead of taking the time to learn what rules you have just been exploiting and how else you might use them. This was the perfect opportunity to slow down and get to grips with what was going on behind the code. We also all had a go on the scratch pad, where you can code to your heart’s content without getting stuck in the set tasks.

There were plenty of chances to ask questions, and we were definitely made to feel that no question was a stupid one, which was fantastic considering that we were tackling new and sometimes challenging ideas.

After making our way through some of the tutorials together and a well earned coffee break, we got back into the coding and were given the time to go at our own pace. Bewildered faces were plentiful, but always met with some wise words and clever analogies to get us back on the right track.

It was great to see so many people keen to have a go, especially with the coding revolution that currently seems to be taking place. The government are taking seriously the idea of programming within the curriculum, and projects like Codecademy are demystifying the process for those who don’t normally spend their afternoons hacking.

In one afternoon I managed to go from typing my name in a box to making a prompt pop up, ask a question and act differently depending on the answer given, and all for the tiny sum of just £2.

I would thoroughly recommend a Manchester Girl Geeks Tea Party to anyone looking to get into coding, as well as their other great events, and I hope they will return to Liverpool soon.

Time to get my geek on…

Millie Kidson