Photo: Susan Nagib
A group of New Rochelle High School students began to build a foundation in computer coding in a most unusual way this week. Taught by the organization CodeScty, which creates rap songs about coding concepts such as algorithms, they studied universal ways to approach a challenge.
That resulted in three disparate final projects: a mock press conference on the troubled state of Venezuela, a plan to aid an impoverished region by teaching the locals to farm and a song about improving cafeteria food.
The program, hosted at Monroe College on Main Street, was sponsored by the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) as a project of its IDEA New Rochelle program. The acronym stands for Interactive Digital Environments Alliance.
"One of our goals is to educate more people about emerging technologies," said BID Executive Director Ralph DiBart. "These companies will be major employers in the coming years - even decades - and we want to help students and others prepare for well-paying, fulfilling careers in the field."
The students were arranged in teams that then each identified a problem and looked for a solution. When one group discussed improving a region's economy through farming, its members were asked why teaching agriculture was better than simply supplying people with food.
"They'll eat more if you teach them how to farm instead of just giving them some food," said freshman Sean Calderon.
That was the nutshell idea behind the course itself. Applying strategies such as pattern recognition and algorithmic design, they can learn not only about computer language used today but also about the next computer language, and the one after that.
Students praised the program's approach.
"I learned more about world problems and how to apply algorithms not just to technology but to everyday life," said freshman Quincy Simmons.
Sophomore Emily Gamez said she had learned the benefit of patience in approaching a problem.
"If you start out step by step by step and you plan it out, you complete something," she said.