Kids at the Boys and Girls Club learn how to make video games from RIT professors

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester are wrapping up the region’s first-ever video game development program. It was a partnership between the Club, AT&T, and RIT. The program coincides with a STEM club that’s intended to bridge the digital divide that many Rochester students face.

It’s been quite the summer for the students in the STEM club. “This is a mega cyborg hand that you put your hand in and you can control it for these to move and stuff,” explained ninth grader Curtis Gatlin as he showed News10NBC his work.

The STEM club has been working on a host of other projects too from solar-powered cars and boats to digitally controlled train sets to good old-fashioned exploding volcanoes. “We use towels as grass and these ones blow off smoke,” said Aniyh Penn, a 6th grader, as she demonstrated her project.

The students involved in the club have access to a whole host of technology that isn’t available at home, or even school. “This is above and beyond because we never really build anything like this in school, so this is kind of new for me,” says Gatlin.

A new part of the club this year is the region’s first video game development program which is a collaboration between AT&T and RIT that brings professors from the School of Interactive Games and Media to the Boys and Girls Club weekly. “These kids were amazing they were surpassing the stuff we were teaching them like on the second day,” says Sten McKinzie, who runs the program.

Ja’Mare Frants, a 7th grader, is in the video game program. “We can like code it and make the blocks different, change the background…I can delete or add different buildings,” he explained while showing off his game.

It’s been a project Frants has really enjoyed. “It’s unique and it’s fun doing something else besides just staying in the house,” he says.

The hope is that these types of program bridge the digital divide that many of these kids face and builds their confidence to consider STEM careers that may be available in the future.