At the Games For Change Student Challenge in December, students from all over New York City came to the Museum of the Moving Image to learn about creating a smarter city using computer programming. Using activities adapted from the Science of Smart Cities program, NYU Tandon School of Engineering students introduced the audience to technologies that can make a city more energy efficient, safe, and livable such as solar panels and radiation detection. The NYU Tandon students then provided guidance and expertise to groups of participants to begin challenges like how to turn on a light bulb by giving instructions to a computer, both wired and wireless.
In one group, Casandra, from PS126 Manhattan Academy of Technology, related programming to music. “This kind of stuff helps you think about other problems, just like music in a way…it teaches you to think about multiple things at once and how many things can connect to each other.” Recently having joined computer programming clubs, she wants to learn more.
Alyssa, from IS239 Mark Twain School described how much engineering and technology have influenced her. “Being able to create new tech and revolutionizing it really appeals to me. And also it’s really fun.” Most curious about environmental-related technology, Alyssa said inventing something that would affect everyday life appealed to her.
After these group projects, everyone was surprised to be greeted by Minerva Tantoco, New York City’s first Chief Technology Officer in the mayor’s office. Tantoco encouraged the students to continue studying and pursuing computer and technological sciences. “We need more techies… more people like you… it’s a cool job and fun as well… use your superpower for good.” Students engaged Ms. Tantoco in a conversation about technology careers and then returned to their groups to start task two.
Some familiar faces demonstrate the success of NYU Engineering students K12 STEM education work. Ben, a middle school student who attended Science of Smart Cities on the NYU Engineering campus last summer, was happy to share with his group the programming skills he’s gained since then. Other students, like Alyssa, ended the Games for Change event looking forward to more tech learning, happy to be a part of this growing community.