Play Like a Girl and Belmont University team up for Hour of Code

CS Education Week to kickoff coding clubs

Play Like a Girl and Belmont University’s Department of Computer Science have teamed up to host Hour of Code – a free, live mentoring event that aims to teach basic coding skills to middle school girls in Nashville during the first week of December and will continue to reach more students throughout 2023. 

To help raise awareness of the value of coding for girls and women across Nashville, Belmont University students and faculty are co-hosting the 10th annual Hour of Code event. This year’s program will kick off Play Like a Girl’s newest edition of Girls Who Code (GWC) Clubs at STRIVE Collegiate Academy in the Donelson area. 

GWC Clubs are after-school programs designed to create a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models for 6-8th grade students using computer science to change the world. Clubs are completely free and offer fun activities through a flexible curriculum that adapts to girls’ unique needs. This year, all Play Like a Girl GWC Clubs will be hybrid – with some sessions held in-person and some entirely online.

“The support of Belmont students and faculty is instrumental in our effort to engage young women in computer science,” said Dr. Kimberly Clay, founder and CEO of Play Like a Girl. “Today, computer science provides a basic foundation for all careers. Thanks to these volunteers, we will be able to introduce 35 STRIVE students to coding this year.”

Play Like a Girl closing gap in computer science

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2031, there will be an additional 682,800 new jobs in computer science available and only 57,343 new computer science graduates annually with the skills to apply for those jobs. Computer science is the fastest growing profession within STEM+, but only 8% of STEM+ graduates earn a computer science degree, with a tiny minority from underprivileged backgrounds.

While significant gains have been made in teaching computer science in schools, only 51% of high schools in the U.S. teach computer science according to a 2021 report on the State of Computer Science Education. In addition, Black and Hispanic students, students receiving free and reduced lunch, and students from rural areas are less likely to attend a school that provides access to this critical subject.

Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts worldwide.

Registration for this year’s Hour of Code mentoring event is free and open to the public at

The 2022 Hour of Code event co-hosted by Play Like a Girl and Belmont University can be followed online via @iplaylikeagirl and @belmontcsm or by searching #HourOfCode and #ReadyforAnyField on Instagram or Twitter.

Titans’ Derrick Henry builds bridges with girls at STRIVE

First impressions

The NFL’s best running back Derrick Henry made a new record during the Titans 27-17 win against the Packers last week. Henry, whose elite talent was on display in front of a national audience Thursday night, rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown — while also catching two passes for 45 yards (that included a key 42-yard grab on a Titans’ scoring drive). The coup de grâce came as Henry threw a three-yard touchdown pass (his second completion of the night) to tight end Austin Hooper and, ultimately, served the game-winning score.

Henry became the first player with at least 20 carries, two completions, a rushing touchdown and a touchdown pass in the same game since 1983 when the immortal Walter Payton did so. Like Payton, Henry is the best running back of his era, and his performance Thursday night should have added him to the list of players being considered for league MVP.

But Henry isn’t worried about accolades for himself, though. The former Heisman Trophy winner is, instead, focused on helping the Titans continue their 7-3 winning streak. 


A perfect fit

Henry represents excellence both on and off the field of play.

Recently, Henry spent a day building bridges made of Popsicle sticks meant to teach engineering design concepts and help female middle school students at STRIVE Collegiate Academy see the value of pursuing their interest in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and related fields (STEM+).

“Sport matters but what really matters is leveling the playing field for girls,” Henry said during a recent one-on-one with Dr. Kim. “I’m blessed to be able to use my platform to help Play Like a Girl deepen its work toward making this happen in our lifetime.”

Challenge accepted

Henry did what is second nature on the sports turf outdoors. Yup, he tossed a few balls and taught the girls a few winning moves. But he didn’t stop by for football alone. Henry was on campus for Play Like a Girl Day – and a fun and meaningful lesson in STEM+.

With the help of Henry and Bridgestone Americas employee volunteers, students learned how to engineer bridges using Popsicle sticks. Students worked in small groups to design and build a bridge to withstand weight, be sturdy, and with the least amount of resources possible. As a team, students were challenged to take initiative in proposing, designing, building, and evaluating their finished products to their peers. Each bridge was evaluated on effectiveness, design, creativity, and aesthetics.

This STEM+ lesson explores basic engineering concepts as well as challenges students to design and build their own versions of contemporary bridges. This project has been used in the past as a way to develop innovative bridges and has impacted the design of many bridges we see today.