Knowing the code for sucess; senior Ella Crabree thrives in her tech element

November 8, 2019

Senior Ella Crabtree started playing video games from a very young age, a devotion that built the foundation for her love of computer programming and robotics. As a 14-year-old, Crabtree was drawn to computer programming when she was randomly selected to take an introductory coding class at her middle school. Freshman year, she enrolled in Computer Programming 1-2. This class inspired her to take Computer Programing for all four of her years at Redwood: Programming 1-2, Advanced Placement Computer Science, Programing 3-4 and she now serves as a teacher’s assistant for a beginner computer programming class.  

Ella Crabtree holds up her robot pleased with how it turned out.

Crabtree’s parents also encouraged her to code during her freshman year of high school. Jessica Crabtree, Ella’s mom and Redwood math teacher, explained that computer programming can be a good idea for students to take before going to college, especially for those who would like to study math.  

“When you get [to college], everyone has already taken a programming class. I believe that all kids should do programming, or they will be at a disadvantage. So [Ella’s dad and I] expected her to do at least one computer programming class,” Jessica said. 

Ella’s father, William Crabtree, a Redwood computer graphics, economics and American government teacher, did not expect her to take all four years of programming.

According to William, by the time Ella was two, she was always enamored with the idea of computers and had been a quick learner, especially when it came to technology. 

Ella was drawn to programming because it allowed her to be creative while problem-solving. 

“[Programming] allows me to solve a puzzle. Sometimes a program will stop working and you have to hunt and figure out what happened. Maybe it is working, but it’s not doing what you want it to do. It is sort of like solving a puzzle, but also free-range because it allows me to create whatever I want,” Ella said. 

One of Ella’s most challenging projects was trying to make a website from scratch. It involved many aspects of computer programming unfamiliar to her. Ella admitted that it might not have been her best work, but she is proud of it because of how much she learned. 

Ella isn’t just an accomplished coder; she is also a co-captain of the Marin Robotics team. When she began robotics, Ella was challenged by her teammates who knew more about engineering and coding than she did at the time.

Vex robot in the middle of being built before heading into the competition.

“Getting hands-on with engineering, I am not sitting at a desk and typing all the time. It’s really fun to see something grow that you can work with, and it’s cool that when you create something, you can say, ‘Hey, I created this,’” Ella said. 

According to Jim Murphy, coach of the Marin Robotics team, Ella contributes to the team in many different ways. 

“Ella brings a lot of energy and intelligence to robotics. Because she has been on the team for a number of years, she has developed specific skills on how to build robots and how to make them work correctly. Now she can educate other students. She does both leadership and building,” Murphy said. 

According to Murphy, Ella’s outgoing personality will be missed by everyone once she graduates. Likewise, computer programming teacher Dave Goldsmith enjoys teaching talented computer programmers like Ella. 

“It’s a rarity to have [such a talented female coder]. We used to have Redwood tours that would come through and I used to tell each group that companies love to hire young women with computer skills. But girls, for the most part, don’t take coding,” Goldsmith said. 

According to Goldsmith, the reason why girls don’t take coding is that there is a smaller amount of female tech role models. He said there are certainly women in tech roles who can serve as role models, but the number isn’t nearly as large as their male counterparts. 

Ella will continue to refine her programming skills. She believes that everyone should start to program because it is easy to begin and can be of use in the future.  

“I would encourage [girls] to take at least a semester because I think there is a big need for people to know how to code and how those types of systems work. As a skill, it’s very valuable for everyone to know, regardless of male or female,” Ella said. 


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