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Cornell Tech hosts computer hack day for kids, seniors

Xiaoyang Ma with senior citizen

Olya Turcihin

Xiaoyang Ma, M.Eng. ’16, who is in the Connective Media degree program, works with a senior citizen at Hack Roosevelt Island.
Xiaoyang Ma with senior citizen

Olya Turcihin

Nick Rudd, MBA ’15, left, and Bryan Russett, MBA '15, volunteered with middle school students at Hack Roosevelt Island.

More than 30 Cornell Tech students taught coding and computer literacy to middle school students and senior citizens last week on Roosevelt Island, showing that computing can be fun and easy for New Yorkers of all ages.

Tying the April 17 event, “Hack Roosevelt Island,” to the observance of Earth Day, volunteers from Cornell Tech’s master’s degree programs practiced coding games related to the environment and computer graphics with middle school-aged students from PS/IS 217, using the python platform Codesters.

Roosevelt Island is the home of Cornell Tech’s future campus, set to open in 2017. Campus officials say they are committed to developing more K-12 initiatives like this one in the near future.

“We’re thrilled to partner with PS/IS 217 to give students the opportunity to learn about computing by building digital projects,” said Diane Levitt, Cornell Tech’s senior director of K-12 education. “This is just one step in our commitment to bring K-12 technology education to Roosevelt Island and across the city. We look forward to working with the community to build on this event and create more tech opportunities over the next few years.”

Following the middle school workshop, volunteers worked with adults at the Roosevelt Island Senior Center on general computer literacy and basic online skills. Seniors practiced finding recipes, travel suggestions, health tips and other information, including how to use Google Maps and general Internet safety and best practices.

“It was great to see students and senior citizens interacting with technology and learning skills that they will be able to use for many years,” said Miwa Takaki, MBA ’15, a member of Cornell Tech’s inaugural MBA class and lead student organizer for Hack Roosevelt Island. “Opportunities to volunteer with the Roosevelt Island community are part of what makes being a student at Cornell Tech so special, and one of the reasons that I look forward to staying in the city after graduation.” 

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Syl Kacapyr