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Zora Ball: Youngest Video Game Programmer

February 19, 2013

At just seven years old, Zora Ball is the youngest person to create a full version mobile video game application. The app was first revealed in Bodek Lounge at the University of Pennsylvania in December 2012, during the annual “Bootstrap Expo,” an event sponsored by the Foundation for the Advancement of Technology in Education (FATE).

Like Zora, students across the Philadelphia area participating in the Bootstrap organization are enrolled in standards-based curriculum that teaches them to program their own videogames using both algebraic and geometric concepts.

The first grader is a Philadelphia native and attends Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School. She was first introduced to Bootstrap and their programming language courses by way of an after-school program known as STEMnaisum Learning Academy. When asked at the Expo to apply the skills she learned, Ball was able to immediately reconfigure her application using the Bootstrap method.

Tari Al-Nasir, one of Zora’s teachers, says she caught on to programming language quickly and she is currently writing codes on a sixth-grade level. Upon speaking with CBS Philly, Al-Nasir told this story of Zora: “She was given very basic information…She transformed her screen into a nail salon!  She found a picture of a ballerina, she found a picture of a jewel, and then another picture of a vampire.  The game she created is called ‘Vampire Diamonds,’ and the object is to get the diamond and avoid the vampire.”

A longer article about Ball and STEM education in the Philadelphia area can be read at the Philadelphia Tribune

–Victoria Ford CAS ’15

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