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Seeing Possibilities and Rewards in Computer Science (SPARCS)

CS Girls Rock!

The SPARCS workshop exists to encourage young women and people of other gender identities under-represented in computer science*, who are exploring an interest in computer science for the first time. It is a unique opportunity designed to ignite enthusiasm for computer science in interested students from across Canada who have had little or no previous exposure to computer science. Attendees learn that computer science is about much more than using and programming computers.

This workshop was formerly known as the CEMC Workshop in Computer Science for Young Women.

Read quotes from past participants

Intended Audience

We welcome young women or people of another gender identity under-represented in computer science* to apply. Applicants must be in grade 9 and 10, have an interest in mathematics, and currently attend a Canadian high school or middle school. Participants should not have attended any similiar workshop.

Dates and Location

This event normally takes place at the University of Waterloo in May. Given concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the in-person event will not take place in 2021.


There is a $150 registration fee, including applicable taxes, to be paid after invited applicants have received their confirmation package.

  • Accommodations, meals and other expenses for the week are included at no extra cost.
  • Air fare expenses will also be paid by the CEMC.

Applying to Attend

Applications are typically accepted from mid-January to mid-February. Applicants write a short essay explaining why they would be a good candidate. They must also have a Math, Science or Computing teacher fill out an on-line reference on their behalf. We are looking for participants with an interest in mathematics but little or no previous exposure to computer science.

Who is selected?

We receive many applications for this workshop. We typically receive more qualified applicants than spots available, and we use lotteries to select among similarly qualified applicants. We are looking for participants with an interest in mathematics but little or no previous exposure to computer science. It is rare for two students from the same school to be selected.

Pictures from Previous Workshops

Browse a small sampling of the many photos taken in past years.

*Why This Audience?

Mathematics and Computer Science are powerful tools, and diversity among mathematicians and computer scientists increases the potential for positive impact. One of the initiatives of the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing is to encourage better gender diversity in the field of mathematics and computer science. See for recent statistics on gender diversity in mathematics. Following the lead of the University of Waterloo, the CEMC encourages people with gender identities under-represented in mathematics and computer science to apply and participate in all our events. We endeavour to make our events and accommodations welcoming to people of all gender identities in attendance.


For more information, please contact us.