When you give of yourself, it is selfless, and when you hear that a friend’s son has been donating his time to help others, I felt compelled to write a few words about him. There is nothing more rewarding than helping others, and a little recognition from a friend is truly okay!
My friend, Dr. Kamu Lakshmi who I met years ago when she and her husband, Raju were searching for a home, mentioned her son Advait to me in a conversation as we were catching up with each other. I should mention that Advait is just 17, and enjoys coding, game design, graphic design, and video editing and production !
Advait wanted to share his love for computer technology with others, and decided to reach out to the local Boys and Girls Club. Advait is the Founder of the Youth Stem Coding Initiative . I found the story so intriguing (and inspiring) I asked Advait a few questions and here are his answers:
1) How long have you been delving into the computer technology world and what initiated your interest in it?
My love for computers started ever since I watched Minecraft videos on YouTube in second grade. Once I saw how amazing and unique the game was, I became determined to make a video game of my own. Ever since, I’ve been obsessed with coding, video game design, and video editing, in hopes of pursuing game design/production in college.
2) What made you think to contact the Boys and Girls Club?
The Boys and Girls Club is such an integral part of the New Rochelle community; besides being an after-school program, it subsists as a home for hundreds of students across many elementary, middle, and high schools. My mother helped me get in contact with a coordinator at BGCNR, and ever since, I’ve been integrating a STEM-inspired computer science curriculum within the organization.
3) What exactly do you teach the middle school students?
I teach my students the fundamentals of coding using Scratch, a block-by-block programming language for beginner programmers. Using Scratch’s intuitive game design engine, my students have the freedom to create whatever video game they desire (as long as it’s school appropriate!). Although I have a structured curriculum, my classes feel very much “free-flowy”; once I go over our programming concepts for that day, I allow my students to spend the rest of the class time developing their very own video game. (And they ended up making really cool games, too! One of my students recreated Flappy Bird in a few months, with no prior coding experience.)
4) Is there any funding ? This is strictly a volunteer basis ?
This club is run entirely on a volunteer basis. I prepare class lessons based on individual needs and BCGNR provided kids with chrome books and laptops—and, to be fair, that’s really all we’ve needed so far.
5) How long is the program each time you meet? Any follow up?
The program runs for around an hour, weekly.
Short and fun homework puzzles are given to monitor to assess their progress.
As mentioned previously, I am working with the robotics club to get in contact with New Rochelle’s elementary and middle schools; we have actually presented to the NRHS principal about our robotics initiative, and he is working with us (along with the PTA) to get in contact with the middle schools’ principals. I am sure that, with time (and as this program becomes more streamlined), students will definitely be recognized for the extracurricular work they put in at BGCNR.
6) Have you reached out to the Youth Bureau New Rochelle as this venture is so exciting for perhaps other students in different areas where they can lend their expertise?
So far, I haven’t brought my coding initiative over to the Youth Bureau of New Rochelle. However, in the future, I would love to contact them so that they can help out with this initiative
7) Are there any special requirements for the student when they sign up for your class?
There are absolutely no special requirements required for any student joining my class. They only need their school-issued Chromebooks—no prior coding experience is needed.
8) What are your long term goals?
Well, mainly, I hope to streamline my coding initiative across multiple New Rochelle schools! The BGCNR has given me an exceptional platform to establish this program—and I want it to continue to grow it across the district. I’d also like to introduce more hands-on learning techniques into the program via robotics. In fact, I’m a part of the New Rochelle High School robotics team, and we plan to soon incorporate a new “robotics initiative” across New Rochelle’s elementary and middle schools. But, most importantly, I want this initiative to be self-sustaining! Even though I’m graduating this year, I’d love to see an increase in our schools’ computer science integration for our future generations of students. In other words, I plan for this program to continue, even after I leave for college.
It was such a pleasure meeting with Advait who I feel exemplifies what the New Rochelle school system offers by way of education and opportunity to succeed ! New Rochelle might be a city, but when you live here, it feels like a village! We all care!
New Rochelle is GREAT!