“I code to help my sister sleep better.”
Zitlaly Lopez, from Warner Middle School in Westminster, California, was recognized with the 2023 Broadcom Coding with Commitment award at the Orange County Science & Engineering Fair (OCSEF) for coding to find a solution to her sister’s insomnia.
Broadcom Coding with Commitment recognizes students in grades 5-8 who combine STEM learning with coding to solve a community problem they care about that aligns with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
Zitlaly often wakes up to her sister typing away at her computer, unable to sleep. Interested in behavioral studies, Zitlaly was curious to understand if there was a link between her sister’s vegetarian diet and her insomnia. “My sister inspired me to start coding, and I wanted to use my new skill to help her and anyone who struggles with sleeping,” Zitlaly said.
Basic Coding is a 21st Century+ skill that girls, under-resourced, and underrepresented youth need to become digitally literate and compete for highly skilled jobs in emerging industries built on technologies of the future.
“Coding is limitless, interesting, and fun. Although you may fail, failing is what gets you to success,” Zitlaly said. “When you code you have the power, rather than just being a consumer.”
Zitlaly was part of a program called Mentor Match that originated at OCSEF. It pairs UCI CalTeach student teachers with science fair mentors and older students to guide their research and projects. Her biology teacher, Mr. Garwick, together with high school seniors Teresa and Marian, helped Zitlaly with the experimental process, graphing data, and practicing for interviews.
“Mr. Garwick was there for me whenever I had trouble with my project, especially finding the right wording,” said Zitlaly. “He is the most genuinely honest person I have met, and I am forever thankful for the help that he gave me.”
“The best part of coaching and mentoring Zitlaly was seeing her face light up talking about her experiment and the effects she discovered,” said Mr. Garwick. “Seeing that type of excitement and engagement in her eyes was a total teaching pleasure.”
“I was so excited that she was honored with a big award!” Mr. Garwick said. “This will motivate and drive her in future endeavors, giving her the confidence that her academic voice is equal to anyone else. As a first generation to college, this will cement her pathway to a STEM higher education and a strong future.”
“I hope to continue with this project. I will do my absolute best to find a way to help not only my sister, but those who are also struggling with sleep. I am sure that I will be able to find at least one item that will help anyone sleep better,” said Zitlaly.
Raspberry Pi has free resources to help anyone learn how to code and teach basic coding. Visit the Projects site to get started.
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