Code'n'Stitch - Development of Pocket Code for gender-sensible stitch and coding courses in handycraft

Project: Research project

Description

Over the next 10 years, lower birth rate students born in 1999-2010 will graduate and enter their professional career or university. The retiring workforce will not be completely replaceable by those. If nothing changes, the Austrian workforce will drop to 77% in the next 20 years and to even 65% among the under 40s. At the same time, the demand for IT professionals will be increasing, with a dramatic impact on the industrial and economic region. To counteract this, we want to inspire young women and men with playful coding activities to choose IT related jobs or studies. The number of young people and women in particular choosing to study in ICT fields is decreasing dramatically. To address this gender bias at an early stage, one of the goals of this proposal is to make coding more accessible and attractive for young females.
Therefore, we will use our educational app Pocket Code, which is developed by the Austrian free and open source project Catrobat, initiated at Graz University of Technology. The app Pocket Code allows the creation of programs in a playful way and directly on phones. To make the app more interesting and attractive for our target group of young women between 12 and 15 years old, we are planning to extend the app with the option to program embroidery machines. In this way, self-created patterns and designs can be stitched on t-shirts, pants or even bags. With Pocket Code, the embroidery machines will get programmable. Patterns and different forms can be created using a visual programming language. As a result, teenagers have something they can be proud of, something they can wear, and they can show to others. For this purpose, a new version of Pocket Code for pattern embroidery will be developed, which should attract especially young women and girls. Furthermore, appropriate stitch/coding courses will be offered at schools. A special emphasis will be given to a gender-equitable conception to consider different requirements, needs and interests of our target group. These courses will be realized together with our partner "bits4kids". On the one hand they are intended to show young women new ways of using technology, with a lot of fun in a sustainable way. On the other hand, young men get inspired through this digital design process to take part in textile handicraft lessons. The cooperation with the fashion shop "Apflbutzn" will help us to picture the whole workflow. The Apflbutzn team will take part in the last units and bring their embroidery machine. Thus, the teenagers are able to see how their programmed patterns are directly embroidered on T-shirts and bags. In addition, “Apflbutzn” will create an economical and sustainable concept, which can be integrated into existing (web-)shops and processes. In future, the pattern-files can be sent via mail and the embroidered products can be picked up or shipped.
The project’s outcomes will be 1) a new version of the Pocket Code app, which includes the stitch extension, 2) a gender-equitable framework for stitch/coding courses, and 3) insights into the practical implementation for shops. As a result, the new Pocket Code Stitch App and the published gender-appropriate "guidelines" should show how young women could be motivated and, thus, they should serve as a guideline for others (Fab-Labs, schools, etc.).
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/09/1831/08/20