When Amira Johnson first started school at Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy in Oakland, she was placed in its “Girls Who Code” club — and she wasn’t pleased.
Back in sixth grade, she would have preferred the movie club, but she was one of the last kids to pick.
Working with a former computer science teacher who she looked up to, Amira learned how to program on the Arduino platform, which includes easy-to-use hardware and software. She eventually wrote code to make her Christmas tree lights dance to music.
Amira wants to be a mentor to other girls who may not see science, technology, engineering and math careers as exciting.
“At school, I make sure I’m a role model for younger kids in addition to making sure I’m a role model for all of my friends,” said Amira, who lives in Crafton.
So she has started up a local chapter of TechnoVation, a program that pushes girls to become interested in entrepreneurship and STEM careers. Through a specialized curriculum, the young women in the program develop a mobile app to solve a problem in their community.