Code/Art Fest 2024 Recap

Mar 29, 2024 | All News

On March 16, 2024, Code/Art hosted its 9th annual Code/Art Fest, an energizing local event that brings together students, educators, technologists, artists and those interested in the intersection of Art + Tech to celebrate young female code artists in South Florida and across the country. 

Check out this behind-the-scenes look from a first-time Fest attendee, highlighting the event’s incredible speakers, digital art exhibition, STEAM Expo, learning opportunities, competitions, and more!

A Blank Canvas

For the first time, this year’s Code/Art Fest was held at the Miami Dade College (MDC) West Campus in Doral, FL, where the Code/Art team had an opportunity to take over an entire floor of space in preparation for the event, themed this year as the Evolution of Tech. Walking into the vast space, with its open setup and highly-visible, glass enclosed classrooms, it was easy to envision how this blank canvas would be transformed into a busy and exciting place of learning. Fast forward through a pre-event day of setup and what started off as an empty space quickly took on the vision of Code/Art’s team in creating an event with opportunities to meaningfully learn, engage, connect, and celebrate. Walking through the dedicated spaces for hosting the art exhibition, STEAM Expo, classrooms for student and educator workshops, and a front-and-center stage for our speakers, panelists, competition participants, and awards ceremony, it was clear that this event was one not to be missed!

Go Time!

Kicking things off the morning of the event, Code/Art staff and volunteers, artists, speakers, sponsors, and workshop leaders made their way to the venue, eager to get the day going and welcome the members of our community that have made Code/Art Fest such an inspiring and thriving annual event. As students, parents, and educators slowly trickled in, there was a growing sense of excitement in knowing the tremendous opportunities for learning and engagement that they would be able to connect with. 

The event kicked off with opening remarks from Amy Renshaw, Code/Art’s CEO and Founder, and MDCPS District 9 Board Member, Luisa Santos and also included Code/Art’s first-ever live musical performance from 7th grade rock star Anaiis Dupoux. Fueled by good music and messages of inspiration, our attendees were ready to engage and kick things into full swing!

Pathways to Learning

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At the Fest, there was no shortage of pathways for our community members to engage and learn more about the tech topics most interesting to them. For our attending educators, this ranged from a workshop on game design using Scratch, to exploring inclusive instructional approaches in computer science education, to learning about the power of leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) in learning spaces. For our younger students, the menu of options was even more expansive, with opportunities to learn about game design tools, coding + animation, and 3D modeling. 

For our older students, the inaugural Future Tech LeadHERs Teen Track for girls and non-binary students in grades 8th-12th was a hit! During their interactive learning sessions, participants had an opportunity to network with like-minded girls, lunch and learn with mentors (including the Fest’s keynote speaker, Maya Man – more on her later!) and learn both technical and career readiness skills to support their exploration of education and career pathways. 

Walking into the bright, fishbowl classroom where the sessions were held, the sense of energy and excitement were felt across the room. Each and every single seat in the room (50!) was taken as the space filled to FULL capacity, with our participants ready to engage and immerse themselves in the opportunity to learn about personal and technical branding, networking, and connecting with Women in Tech mentors. Needless to say, observing a room full of eager learners prepared to think and talk about their futures and exchange ideas in a collaborative space was energizing and a highlight of the day.

The Code/Art Effect

One of the most notable aspects of the Fest was the opportunity for attendees to not only participate in fast-paced, hands-on, interactive learning through workshops and engagement with our STEAM Expo, but to also pause and connect during quiet moments when our event speakers joined the Main Stage, front-and-center, to share insights about their lived experiences, moments of inspiration, and encouragement to keep forging their own paths.

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With our Code/Art Alumni Panel, Fest attendees had an opportunity to hear from four Code/Art alums– Anne-Sophie Frédérick, Isa Delionado, Rania Ishoof, and Anna Mistele – as we celebrated their accomplishments and they shared personal anecdotes from each of their journeys exploring coding and computer science, while finding their sense of community. Reflecting fondly on her experience with Code/Art, Rania shared, “Code/Art influenced me in a few ways. It definitely boosted my confidence as I learned to navigate spaces with other young women, become a leader, and also a great collaborator. Being a part of Code/Art was helpful in building so many important skills.” This fall, she is headed off to Babson College in Massachusetts to study entrepreneurship, bringing with her the spirit of community, collaboration, and exploration nurtured by Code/Art.

Listening to the alumni share their stories of advocacy and learning, it was clear that Code/Art’s impact extends well beyond the girls who participate in its year-round programming; rather, Code/Art has a built a deep community of supporters who champion its mission and the accomplishments of its alumni are a testament to the inclusive and welcoming network that they become part of and can always return to.

 

Art + Tech are Everywhere!

This year, Fest attendees were in for a real treat, as the event featured more visual artists and exhibitor organizations (for the STEAM Expo) than ever before and the room was electric! This year, we had an opportunity to host a diverse group of artists from The Bakehouse Art Complex, including Fabiola Larios, Moises Sanabri, Carla Gannis, and Patricia Monclus, as well as other notable artists, including Amaranta Martinez, Valeria Galvan, and our closing keynote speaker, Maya Man. As attendees moved around the room’s open spaces, they were able to chat with the artists, learn more about their work, and experience interactive and other tech-driven art installations, while also hopping from booth to booth during the STEAM Expo and learning about what’s on the horizon for the future of tech. And if you were lucky, you might have even bumped into (and chatted with!) our friendly robot from Florida Robotics. 

 

A Dose of Healthy Competition

Perhaps one of the most joyful aspects of the Fest is having the opportunity to be a part of the event’s well-known, all-girl coding competitions, which include CodeYourSelf™, Coded Animated Art, Game Design, and ChangeMaker. Code/Art’s coding competitions combine coding, art, and social good, creating a space for learning, collaboration, and healthy competition, with participants ranging from first-time coders to those taking advanced-level computer science courses in high school. 

This year marked a growth in competition participation both locally and nationally, demonstrating Code/Art’s continued impact both within and outside of South Florida, with notable competition highlights including

 

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  • More than 730 total entries for all four categories
  • 3 national, 2 regional competitions
  • 112 participating schools (nationally) 
  • 56 participating teachers (nationally)
  • 22 participating states

And of course, no Code/Art Fest recap is complete without mention of the highly anticipated ChangeMaker Challenge, where South Florida girls in grades 8-12 identify a current issue in their community and figure out a way to tackle it using research, collaboration, and of course: coding. This year, the coveted $5,000 grand prize and opportunity for mentorship from partner organizations was awarded to the Sunny Software Sisters, a trio of high schoolers who developed an app and website to support sunscreen usage and early detection/screening for skin cancer. Hearing the girls from the three finalist teams deliver their pitches live and confidently answer on-the-spot questions from a panel of (tough!) tech professionals showed a small glimpse into what is made possible by coding and how it can create a huge impact within local communities. (Not to mention the excitement and energy of all the finalists and winners who later joined on stage to accept recognition for their CodeYourSelf™, Coded Animated Art, and Game Design entries!)

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End of Day Reflections

Towards the end of the Fest, things wound down with a powerful closing keynote from Maya Man, an artist focused on contemporary identity culture on the internet. By sharing her lived experiences and bringing Fest attendees into her journey towards understanding her own relationship with art, technology, and identity, Maya closed out the event with a message of encouragement about what it means to live with authenticity and find one’s own path among many to choose from. 

Having an opportunity to connect with Code/Art’s Founder after such an uplifting event, Amy shared her own reflections, affirming that fundamentally, Code/Art Fest exists to “inspire, empower, and celebrate the girls and teachers that the organization works with year-round.” With Maya Man’s message in mind and Amy’s deep commitment to the communities served by Code/Art, it’s no wonder that both the organization and Fest continue to broaden their reach year-after-year, connecting with more girls, making greater impacts, and doing so much good along the way.

See you at next year’s Fest, where we’ll be celebrating Code/Art’s 10th anniversary!

Check out the official recap video here!

Impact by the Numbers (for the data folks!)

  • Reached 750+ people
    • >445 in-person attendees
    • 315 virtual attendees for closing keynote/awards
  • Nearly 50 girls attended inaugural session of new Teen Track program
  • 26 K-12 teachers attended educator track 
  • 15 exhibitor organizations (STEAM Expo)
  • 7 visual artists & 1 musical performer
  • 25 speakers, live judges and workshop leads
  • Nearly 50 day-of volunteers joined to make the event a success

With Gratitude

We share a special thank you to our:

  • Sponsors – Chase, CITY Furniture, FAU College of Engineering & Computer Science, FPL, Miami Dade College, Miami-Dade County, Neau, Northeastern University, Santo Dulce, South Florida Tech Hub, Superblue, TD Bank, The Idea Center at Miami Dade College, and The Idea Center.
  • Community partners – AI Camp, ARTXCODE, Bakehouse Art Complex, CSforALL, CSTA Miami, Galvan, infento, Miami-Dade Public Library System, Miami EdTech, Miami Girls Rock Camp, Moonlighter FabLab, Moxies, Riders, Robohood, UF College of Education, WiCS, Without Walls EDU, Women of Web3, Youmake Miami, Young at Art Museum