Girls Encouraged to Code White House Christmas Trees | WABE 90.1 FM

Girls Encouraged to Code White House Christmas Trees

Dec 2, 2014

On the website, users can program lights on trees near the White House.

The trees around the White House will be lit up for Christmas soon. Each state is represented by a tree, and this year, girls from around the country are invited to create patterns for their state’s Christmas tree lights. It’s part of an initiative to get more girls interested in computer coding.

Google teamed up with the National Park Foundation to put this project together. By going to a website,, participants can choose how fast the lights blink, what colors they are, and what patterns to make. These entries will actually control how the state trees at the White House will light up.  

“We thought it would be great if girls could use computer science to own that space and design unique trees,” said Google spokeswoman Samantha Smith. Boys can participate, too, she added, but the emphasis is on girls, because they’re so underrepresented in computer and engineering careers.

That matches what Tene Harris Davis, associate director of the early college program at Georgia State University has seen. She runs programs that teach high school students to code.

“There aren’t a lot of girls – women – in the field of coding, computer science,” she said. “And there aren’t a lot of people of color in this field.”

The students Davis works with aren’t participating in this particular project. But she says campaigns like this can lead to careers, which is good for the students and also for tech companies.

“A lot of companies, as you see with Google, are really interested in providing this access so that there can be a pipeline into careers for coding,” she said.

President Barack Obama and the first family will light up the trees this Thursday. You can watch the lighting ceremony online, at the Whitehouse’s website.

And if Christmas trees aren’t for you, you can program snowflakes, too.