A new coding contest from Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is encouraging young women and girls to explore their creativity this spring break.

From now until the end of March, any self-identified woman aged 19 or under can sign up for VIRL’s STEAM Scratch Contest for Young Women.

It launched on International Women’s Day (Mar. 8th) and invites participants to use the code block building interface, Scratch, to build an animation, story, or video game on whatever inspires them.

Scratch is a free, open-source coding program developed by the Michigan Institute of Technology.

“The fields of computer programming and coding are still largely dominated by men,” says VIRL information technician Dalia Levy.

“This contest is all about letting young women explore their creativity and passions, and potentially hook into a new career path or lifelong interest. There are also some great prizes for some of the lucky coders.”

Prizes include a $50 Best Buy gift card, library swag including a VIRL whale plushie, and a copy of ‘Remarkable Minds: 17 More Pioneering Women in Science and Medicine.’

Individuals and groups can submit their work to cc@virl.bc.ca, and the deadline to do so is next Wednesday, March 31st. VIRL encourages multiple entries from all participants. To learn more, visit its website.