For 10 days, 30 underserved kids from the Lower Hudson Valley sat at computers at Digital Arts Experience on Central Park Avenue. The Code Heroes were on a mission. Their goal was to create a choose-your-own-adventure type of game with a focus on anti-cyberbullying using a free block-based computer program called Scratch.
“Since our inception, the Digital Arts Experience has been focused on supporting and collaborating with our community,” said DAE founder and president Rob Kissner, a 2004 graduate of Scarsdale High School’s Alternative School. “Knowing how to code is one of the literacies of the future and at the DAE we believe it should be accessible to all kids regardless of where they grow up.”
With help from local partners, the DAE was able to provide the class to the students for free.
DAE was founded more than seven years ago with a focus on helping local kids get interested in STEM fields by learning to code, designing games and interacting in the virtual reality space.
“You’re going to be the leaders and the ambassadors for how to combat cyberbullying,” Scarsdale Deputy Mayor Jane Veron told the students at an Aug. 1 presentation at DAE. “We know that early exposure ignites interest and reduces reluctance, so you won’t be intimidated, rather you’ll be energized to learn more.”
There will be a projected 1 million job openings in computer-related fields from 2014 to 2024 and 93 out of 100 STEM occupations have wages above the national average, according to United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“I feel that coding and the digital experience is so important because it’s real jobs,” Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said at the presentation. “I think you have a leg up and if you continue in this field there will be really good jobs for you.”