By Emily Drooby
Most kids play games, but Eli Perez builds them.
“I’m proud of it, I like to see people enjoy the game,” she told Currents News.
From a game where players rescue gifts from the Grinch, to a maze where players have to escape before the clock runs out, Eli has thought up, designed, drawn out and coded four games into existence.
“I feel like through my coding, I can express myself, my creativity, and it just helps me relax,” she said of her newfound hobby.
She learned how to do it at St. Brigid-St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Academy in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and she’s not the only one.
The program idea came from math and technology teacher José Martinez. He wanted to bring coding to the school, but knew he needed to find a way to make it interesting to his young students.
“I know they play games,” he explained. “I thought that making games is something that could really get them excited.”
For years, educators have pushed to teach coding in schools — it’s said to improve problem solving and logical thinking.
It has become an important skill in the job market, and it pays. A study by job market analytics firm Burning Glass found jobs that use coding skills paid an average of $22,000 more a year.
The nonprofit code.org says that while 90% of parents wanted their kids to study computer science, only 47% of high schools actually teach it.
That puts St. Brigid, a nursery through 8th grade school, ahead of the curve.
“As a teacher I feel excited. I’m thinking about their future,” José said. “I want them to get the most out of this school that they can get.”
Through this program students not only build the games, but publish them for anyone to play.
The code is even made public, helping other students learn.
Eli will continue coding — now a beloved hobby — and José says he plans to grow the program next year.