What if I told you you could code lights on a White House Christmas tree? What if I told you you could do it for free, from the safety of your home, with no previous knowledge required? Sounds pretty farfetched, right? Well, believe it or not, you can totally do it with Google's program Made With Code, which endeavors to teach girls coding in order to address a lack of female presence in tech. Using their very simple system, anyone can create beautiful patterns of moving, colorful lights on any of the 56 trees that represent the 56 states and territories. Not only do you get to create a pattern, but it will actually appear on one of the trees at some time during the day, which they'll tell you once you submit. SO COOL.
The system basically breaks down the coding into four sections: shape, design, variables, and movement. You can select how the lights will shine, what color the lights are, what design they will shine in, how many will shine, and how they're going to move. You can also choose how bright they will be and how fast they will move using number variables. Sweet.
I decided to try my hand at coding one of these trees, and I gotta say it's a lot of fun and also super easy. I know some basic HTML (thanks Myspace and AOL Hometown), but nothing like this. Granted, the project is listed at the beginner level, but seeing how variables can drastically change the effects of coding is really interesting and plays a huge role in tech no matter how big or small.
In my opinion, the lights project more than achieves Made With Code's goal, which is helping people — specifically girls — realize how awesome coding can be, and how it is present in things you would never even imagine, like Christmas trees. Just doing this small simple project made me want to try some of the intermediate projects and lessons. If it works on me, it's bound to work on tons of girls, and perhaps one day soon Google's tech staff will be more than a measly 17-percent female.
Also, everyone in the Washington, D.C. area is going to get a taste of my awesome light design skillz, which is pretty darn cool.
In summation, you should definitely try your hand at designing a tree, and encourage your sisters, moms, grandmas, girlfriends, and basically every girl and woman you know to do so. Female representation in tech is so, so very important, and getting women interested in the field is the first step to bolstering it.
And just in case you won't be in D.C. on Dec. 7, here's my tree in convenient GIF form:
Images: Made With Code (4)