CCA Girls Who Code concludes year-long ‘Girls in STEM’ online education programs

Hands-on projects conducted through remote learning.
Hands-on projects conducted through remote learning.

Canyon Crest Academy’s Girls Who Code club and the affiliated all-girls Ravenettes robotics team wrapped up a productive year with several remote-learning programs to provide STEM education to students in the San Dieguito School District during the pandemic. Led by graduating seniors Samantha Prestrelski (president) and Alexis Wu (vice president), the CCA Girls Who Code team started moving their educational outreach programs online when school closed in March 2020. The effort evolved into a year-long “Girls in STEM” program with weekly online lessons in Java Programming and Embedded Systems that were open to all girls in the district during the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Java Programming curriculum was led by Alexis Wu and Sarah Golts, both seniors at CCA. The three online, semester-long sessions began in March 2020 and have served over 100 students from 15 schools in San Diego County. Students learned programming concepts through hands-on coding practice with games, cryptography, and other computer science applications.

The embedded systems workshops were designed and taught by Club Mentor Stefan Prestrelski, Torrey Pines High School graduate and a student at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering, and co-led by Sarah Luo, CCA junior and captain of the Ravenettes Robotics Team. These biweekly workshops are designed for middle and high school students to learn programming, mechanical, and electrical concepts through circuit building and project-based embedded systems applications.

“We decided to create the online Girls in STEM program to bridge the learning gap during school closures and provide girls access to the skills needed to pursue careers in technology,” said Samantha Prestrelski, club president and director of the Girls in STEM program. “We are grateful to our sponsors, BrainCorp and Qualcomm, who have enabled us to create and provide computer science education programs during the pandemic, free of charge, to any girl in our community who wishes to participate.”

“As the team advisor since the club’s inception at CCA, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing its growth, which is primarily due to the dedication of the past and current leaders of the club,” said Tony Mauro, advisor to both the Girls Who Code club and Ravenettes Robotics Team. “It is truly inspiring to see how innovative the leadership was in creating an engaging program, even in the face of the restrictions in force over the past year. Though I will miss the leadership of Samantha and Alexis, I look forward to working with Sarah to continue with the established legacy.”

The Girls in STEM program will provide a series of beginner and advanced embedded systems workshops this summer for new and continuing students. The program will begin in late June and end in August. Topics include electronics theory, DC motors, sensors, circuits, and other relevant topics for electrical control systems. If you or your student are interested in participating, or would like information regarding the club or the robotics team, please visit the CCA Girls Who Code website at For further information about the program, contact Sarah Luo (president-elect) or Samantha Prestrelski (incoming team coach) at