Local first-grader Zora Ball is seven years old and she’s already built her own mobile game.
Ball, a student at Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School, built the game as part of Bootstrap Philadelphia, a program that teaches students algebra through programming videogames. Bootstrap Philadelphia, the local branch of a global initiative, just launched its winter session at Harambee and Wilson Community School. The program launched in Philadelphia in early 2012 and this will be its third session.
The app isn’t live to use, but Ball’s story is meant to be representative of how early and ferociously groups are trying to get young Philadelphians into the STEM pipeline.
The eight-week program caters to middle-schoolers (Ball was the youngest participant last year), said Kelly Ohlert, a former lawyer who cofounded Foundation for the Advancement of Technology in Education (FATE), the organization that runs Bootstrap Philadelphia. The program is nearly entirely volunteer-run, and FATE trains all of its teachers, who are usually college students.
FATE was initially funded by a grant from the Vanguard Charitable Foundation but is searching for funding to keep it several edtech programs going.
Below, watch a video about the program.