Kelly Gole had, in her words, an "amazing" chance to spend time in Washington, D.C., with Google's Made with Code initiative Dec. 3-5.
The Batesville Middle School eighth-grader said coding is "making the computer design stuff the way you want."
Made with Code "builds on Google's longstanding commitment to increasing diversity in computer science, according to https://www.madewithcode.com/faqs. It is an "initiative to champion creativity, girls and code all at once. The movement is designed to do three things: To inspire girls by celebrating women and girls who are using code to do great things, to engage girls to try coding through introductory projects and resources and to sustain their interest by creating alliances and community around girls and coding."
The 13-year-old, who pointed out she would be 14 the day after Christmas, said she didn't know about this opportunity until Thanksgiving, when "my dad got an e-mail from a friend who knew someone who worked at Google .... They wanted someone from the Zionsville/Carmel area to go" because that is U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks' congressional district, and she co-chairs the Women's High-Tech Coalition.
Since no one wanted to go from that area, Gole applied and was selected. "We left the next week, so I didn't have much time to prepare at all," the Batesville resident recalled.
She and her dad, Ken Gole, arrived in Washington early Dec. 3 and stayed until the morning of Dec. 5. While there, the teen, along with about 50 other girls from across the U.S., "actually got to go in the White House. It was very impressive.
"I kept thinking, 'I’m actually here.' We got to go into the residence and went to the bottom floor where the ambassadors eat and saw the first lady's china and stuff.
"We met with lots of people there, including someone in charge of security and the first lady's adviser, someone who helps her a lot .... a couple other people talked about computers and told us how they got into coding.
"We met with mentors, who explained their coding stories. There was a lady from Pixar and one who was a fashion designer .... It was pretty cool to meet with those people.
"We also visited the Google offices in Washington, D.C., and saw lots of cool Google things. All of it is high-tech, and they have fun offices."
Gole also got to attend the tree-lighting ceremony. She helped design the lights on the Indiana tree.
"The trees were all beautiful .... It (the ceremony) took two or three hours. Everyone was singing, and there were lots of different performers," including Fifth Harmony, Patti LaBelle, Ne-Yo, Steve Miller and Chely Wright. "Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks were the hosts of the whole thing."
She saw the president, first lady and first family from a distance. "The President's Own" United States Marine Band "was really good. I was impressed," the BMS band member, who plays the flute, noted.
The straight A student also toured the Capitol and saw the House and Senate. "Right in the middle of it, we had to go on a wild goose chase because we were trying to find Sen. Dan Coats .... We got to ride the train below the Capitol. That was cool.
"We went into one of the other buildings in the House and met with Rep. Susan Brooks and had breakfast there."
What will she remember the most? "Probably all the people I met. I made lots of new friends. There was a girl from Kansas that I became really close with .... I was one of the youngest ones there. Most of the others were high schoolers."
Gole reported that her brother, Andy, Indianapolis, has helped her a lot with coding, but she also enjoys reading fantasy books and playing computer games.
Diane Raver can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.