Ditmas I.S. 62 - Brooklyn - New York City - Department of Education

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New York City kids get with the programming thanks to software engineering classes

BY BEN CHAPMAN - NEW YORK DAILY NEWS - Tuesday, December 16, 2014, 12:12 PM
A STEM program being rolled out in 18 New York City public schools across all five boroughs is teaching hundreds of students the valuable skill of computer programming, city Education Department officials said.


The agency’s Software Engineering Pilot program is working so well that nine participating students from Brooklyn were invited to the White House on Dec. 8 to show off their coding chops.


Ditmas Junior High School 62 seventh-grader Shanay Massimi said it was the trip of a lifetime.


“It was really inspiring,” said Shanay, 12, who used a computer program called Scratch to create a digital comic about a superhero with her classmates.

The kids competed in a “hackathon” organized by AT&T in October and were noticed by White House officials, who invited them to demo their skills in an event attended by dozens of educators from across the country.


Shanay is one of about 2,600 kids participating in the coding classes that are modeled after lessons given at the city’s two wildly popular Academy for Software Engineering high schools


Last year, more than 400 kids applied for just 120 seats in the first class of ninth-graders at the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering, where every student takes computer programming in addition to the usual high school classes.


Shanay said that learning to code at Ditmas activated her passion for programming that’s propelling her toward a high-tech career.


“I know I’m still in middle school, but I hope I can one day have a job and change the perception that only men can do this,” Shanay said. “I want to bring attention to the idea that women can do the same thing men can do, especially in tech.”


Her teacher, David Liotta, who gives lessons in social studies and technology at Ditmas, said he’s seen many of his students become obsessed with computer programming, in a good way.


“Coding becomes like a second language to them,” Liotta said. “When they do something new, it’s the most exciting thing in the world."

Photo Credits: JEFF BACHNER/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

 

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