High Schoolers Use Arduino Kits to Design Safer Railroad Crossing Systems in Westchester, NY


The Digital Arts Experience held its first ever Design Challenge on Saturday, December 3rd. The challenge focused on rail safety, more specifically, developing safer systems for rail crossings. Given the increasing number of train accidents and in the light of the recent bills signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to require the state to study rail crossings and assess their safety, we felt that High School students would be the ideal candidates to innovate and improve the dated and ineffective technology that is currently being utilized.

The teams were provided Arduino Uno boards, which are inexpensive microprocessors, and simple buttons, switches, LEDs, motors, and sensors to create their systems. Teams from Putnam Valley High School, Mamaroneck High School, and Mt. Vernon High School registered to face this challenge. The teams had approximately five hours to design, build, and test their systems, and everyone at The DAE as well as the judges were absolutely blown away by what the teams created.

_mg_3743The students from Putnam Valley High School created a self-aware system with sensors and volumetric cameras that could assess a car or any other object on a track (i.e. a fallen tree, power line, etc.) and notify the train operator and MTA control room. What’s more is their design had multiple levels of redundancy that took human error out of the equation. For example, if the system detected a car on the tracks, the train operator, and MTA control would be notified. If the train started to approach the zone in which it could safely stop before colliding with the obstruction and the train operator did not start to slow down, the system would slow down the train automatically. This system was thoughtfully designed and excellently executed. Using the simple technology provided, they demonstrated exactly how their system would detect, communicate, and intervene when needed. It had layers of systems that constantly checked on each other to ensure that no matter what, an impact will be avoided.

_mg_3690The team from Mamaroneck High School introduced several innovative ideas with their design. To start, their design employed a super bright LED strip right before the crossing that would change colors from green to yellow to red as a train approached the crossing. This is a simple yet effective system because it is a universal system for drivers, rather than abstract signs and lights that are currently used. Their system also had an array of video cameras viewing the track from all sides so the train operator can view the crossing well before the train arrives there. In addition, their design used a system of lasers to detect if an obstruction was on the tracks. The lasers would detect when a car enters and exits a crossing, and whether the car is stuck on the tracks. In the case that a car is stuck on the tracks, the system will alert the train operator and MTA control. If the train is approaching and the obstruction hasn’t moved, their design incorporated a conveyor system that would physically move the car off the tracks.

_mg_3755The Mount Vernon team was just a single High School student due to a few no-shows on his team. What’s more is that the student did not have any prior experience with Arduino or electronics, yet he took on the challenge head on. His design incorporated simple ideas with tremendous effect. Firstly, his design incorporated extremely bright LEDs to light and indicate a crossing. Currently, crossings are not lit with any special lighting, they simply have the crossbucks sign. He also included a counter that would count down the time until a train arrived at the crossing. Finally, he included a pressure sensor that would alert the driver if there is a car on the tracks.

The judges were struck by the richness of the ideas and the degree to which the teens could implement them with the limited technology that we provided. Considering that they completed these designs in approximately 5 hours is a staggering achievement. In the end, the team from Putnam Valley High School took home the $500 prize, but each team left with prizes and a sense of fulfillment for not only completing this challenge but for creating designs that could potentially save lives.

The beauty of having high school students design these systems is that they have no preconceived notions of business, money, or government. They simply want to solve the problem. Each team showed incredible intelligence, focus, determination, and innovation and all of us at The DAE know that they are going to go on to do incredible things.  


Rob Kissner (The DAE’s President & CEO) & Alan Brody (Founder of StartupPalooza) with the winning team.


Summer STEM Camp 2016 at The Digital Arts Experience in Westchester, NY

Summer STEM & Tech Camp 2016 at The Digital Arts Experience in Westchester, NY

Class in Makerspace

3D Printing, Animation, Coding & Computer Programming, Electronics, Design, LEGO, Minecraft, Photography & more!

Enthusiastic Instructors

Our friendly staff is trained in a special DAE teaching methodology that allows our programs to be both fun and educational!


100% Hands On

All programs are 100% hands-on & project based. Our small group setting enables more individual attention from the instructor.



Collaborate with like-minded individuals & make new friends with similar interests. Leave with original projects that can be used in a portfolio.


Strictly Anti-Bully

We provide a safe environment for kids where creativity, uniqueness and originality is celebrated. There is a zero tolerance policy for bullying of any kind.

Learn More


Visit our Summer STEM Camp Page to view more specifics:


To view the full schedule & register:


STUDENT SPOTLIGHT – “My Experience at The DAE”, Victoria H., Age 11

August 21st, 2014- White Plains, NY, The Digital Arts Experience Inc. (The DAE) provides After School, Summer and School Break tech programs for kids and teens in Westchester County that are both educational and fun!

For this entry, Cristina asked Summer Camp helper Victoria to answer a few questions about her past, present and future thoughts on The Digital Arts Experience. Her answers are listed below.

After School & Saturday programs for kids & teens in Westchester County at The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains

2D Flash Animation student work from Summer 2014 camps: After School & Saturday programs for kids & teens in Westchester County at The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains.


Q. In your own words, what is the Digital Arts Experience?

A. The Digital Arts Experience is a creative environment for everyone. It is an amazing place for you to create digital items. Whether you want to create a website, direct your own movie or program a video game, the Digital Arts Experience is the place for you!

Summer Programs programs for kids & teens in Westchester County at The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains

Instructor Matt Lewis showcasing student work. Summer Programs programs for kids & teens in Westchester County at The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains run all the way through the end of August.


Q. Why do you like the DAE?

A. I like the Digital Arts Experience for many reasons. I love to work with the staff. They help me with my work, and they are just so awesome! Also, when it comes to the digital world, the possibilities are endless! 3D Printing, Music production, animation, even game programming–they have it all!

Print your own objects! 3D Printing and Scanning programs for kids & teens in Westchester County at The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains

Print your own objects! 3D Printing and Scanning programs for kids & teens in Westchester County at The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains


Q. What are some things you’ve learned at the DAE?

A. I learned so many things at the DAE. I learned how to make a movie with special effects, how to create my own music, and I even learned how to cross reality with animation!


Q. How do you think the DAE has helped kids and technology?

A. The DAE has taught kids many things. In all the classes I’ve ever taken, each kid there would learn something new. Whether it was learning how to do stop motion or how to make hilarious scenery, we would all learn something really cool. The teachers taught us how to make many things with certain software. (Final Cut Pro X, AfterEffects, Photoshop and more) And now that I know, I use it every day!

Parents, guardians, friends and family gather around for the Student Showcase, where students display the work they've created during camp and classes.

Parents, guardians, friends and family gather around for the Student Showcase, where students display the work they’ve created during camp and classes.


Q. What do you see in the future for the DAE?

A. I see many things in store at the DAE. I have a feeling it will become very popular. In my vision, the DAE will be well known for amazing classes. Whether it’s learning how to 3D print or how to create a music composition, I see great things for the DAE.

The Digital Arts Experience staff - 6 of whom recently received CPR, AED & First Aid certification includes Rob Kissner, President & CEO, Cristina Calabrese, Director of Operations & Co-Founder, Emily Angell, Scratch Instructor & Event Planner, Jess Hachigian, Director of Community Relations, Nick Sceusa, 3D Animation guru & Celina Bertoncini, Animation, 3D Printing & Scratch summer instructor.

The Digital Arts Experience staff – 6 of whom recently received CPR, AED & First Aid certification includes Rob Kissner, President & CEO, Cristina Calabrese, Director of Operations & Co-Founder, Emily Angell, Scratch Instructor & Event Planner, Jess Hachigian, Director of Community Relations, Nick Sceusa, 3D Animation guru & Celina Bertoncini, Animation, 3D Printing & Scratch summer instructor.

To view the schedule of classes for the upcoming Fall, check out: http://bit.ly/1tW12yy.

For questions or comments, feel free to send us an e-mail at info@TheDAE.com.

The Digital Arts Experience

170 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 100

White Plains NY, 10601

(914) 644-8100



Summer Tech Camps in Westchester off with a Blast!

The Digital Arts Experience (The DAE) Summer Tech Camps in Westchester, White Plains, NY– July 7th, 2014 marked the beginning of The DAE’s summer programming. With afternoon and morning sessions, the programs are flexible with your busy summer schedule!

Instructor Pete Monsanto of FlyLifeImages.com teaching a Digital Photography course

Instructor Pete Monsanto of FlyLifeImages.com teaching a Digital Photography course

For Summer Session 1, the Morning programs are:

  • 3D Minecraft Animation
  • 3D Printing
  • Digital Photography
  • Sound FX and Digital Music Production
  • Stop Motion Animation
  • Visual FX & Video Production

And for the Afternoon:

  • 3D Animation & Modeling
  • 3D Printing
  • Digital Photography
  • Game Programming with Java (x2)
  • Game Programming with Scratch


Morning session runs from 9:30AM – 12:00PM, and Afternoon from 1:00PM – 3:30PM. This summer marks the 2nd year that The DAE has been running tech programming for kids and teens. Compared to last year, the enrollment has nearly tripled!


President and founder Rob Kissner welcomes the students and goes over the ground rules on the first day of camp.

The Digital Arts Experience runs summer programming all the way until the end of August in 1 and 2-week long programs. To find out what programs are still available, check out their registration page at:  http://bit.ly/1jL46Wh or schedule a tour at by giving a call at (914) 644-8100 or e-mailing info@TheDAE.com!

Other summer programs include Graphic & Web Design, Intro to Computer Programming with Processing, Electronics using Arduino, 2D Flash Animation, Songwriting and more! Be sure to check out what is still available before classes fill up.

We hope to see you with us at The DAE this summer!


Digital Music Summer Camp in White Plains Westchester NY

Digital Music Summer Camp in White Plains, Westchester NY at The Digital Arts Experience. Spring & Summer options, no prior musical experience required.

New Digital Music Programs in White Plains, Westchester NY at The DAE

Digital Music Programs & Summer Camp in White Plains, Westchester NY at The DAE


Music for Minecraft 

Ages 8-12


Do you love Minecraft? Do you spend so much time breaking and placing blocks that you wish you could do more with your favorite game? Well now you can!  

  • write music to compliment your game 
  • create sound effects with foley
  • create a whole new sound for YOUR Minecraft and gaming experience!

Come have fun and learn some cool tricks of how to enhance your gaming experience in this unique music program!


Session 1: July 7th – July 18th, 9:30AM – 12:00PM

Session 2: July 21st – Aug. 1st, 1:00PM – 3:30PM

Session 3: Aug 4th – Aug 15th, 9:30AM – 12:00PM

Session 5: Aug 25th – Aug 29th, 1:00PM, 3:30PM

Click here to register or learn more: 



Songwriting and Production 101

Ages 10+


Did you ever wish you could write a song like Taylor Swift? Justin Timberlake? Rhianna? Will.i.am? Katy Perry? Pharrell? Lorde? Eminem? One Direction? Miley Cyrus? Jay Z? Beyonce? Ariana Grande? Pink? Or any other of your favorite performing artists and bands? 

This summer, learn how to write like the pros WITH a professional producer/composer and songwriter! Get hands on experience writing in a professional music studio and learn how to create catchy memorable lyrics that you’ll have your friends singing along to like you’re the next number one artist on Billboard’s Top 100!


Session 1: July 7th – July 18th, 1:00PM – 3:30PM

Session 2: July 21st – Aug. 1st, 9:30AM – 12:00PM

Session 3: Aug 4th – Aug 15th, 1:00PM – 3:30PM

Session 5: Aug 25th – Aug 29th, 9:30AM – 12:00PM

Click here to register or learn more: 



Intro to Digital Music Production

Ages 8-12


Whether you are a singer, in a band, play a musical instrument, or are just curious how to create your own sound effects, this class is for you! Students will work in our professional Recording Studio and learn how to use the soundboard and software (GarageBand, Logic Pro X). You’ll create and record your own music and sounds, as well as learn how to edit & mix!


Session 4: Aug 18th – Aug 22nd, 9:30AM – 12:00PM

Click here to register or learn more: 



Music Studio Composition & Production

Ages 13+


Are you thinking of starting a degree or career in the music industry? Are you starting your music degree in the fall? If you want to get a jumpstart in learning professional music composition and production or you want to see if this is the degree or career for you then this is your program!

Learn the basics on a college level and be confident when you walk into your major in the fall! Or, be confident that this is the career path for you! Work with a professional music composer, studio musician, arranger and producer that has and continues to work on hit television shows for major networks, blockbuster films and with world renown composers and performing artists!  You will work in The DAE’s state of the art music studio learning how to use Logic Pro to create professional songs and music compositions for film, television, commercials and even video games!


Session 4: Aug 18th – Aug 22nd, 1:00PM – 3:30PM

Click here to register or learn more: 


Ring in the New Year: Family Friendly New Year Activities in Westchester

The Digital Arts Experience is excited to support the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District and our friends at Harquin Creative Group by helping Ring in the New Year on December 31st at New Roc City.

Ring in the new year new rochelle

According to NewRochelleNY.com the festivities are set to begin at 10:30 am and will feature face painting, arts and crafts, martial arts and sports demonstrations, snacks, clowns, magicians, games and more. At noon, 325th Anniversary Chair Marianne Sussman and committee members will join radio personality Jimmy Fink of 107.1 The Peak to ring in 2014 in true Times Square fashion with a thrilling release of thousands of festive, brightly-colored balloons!

Ring in the New Year Balloon Drop

If you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly way to spend your new year (where you won’t be out too late!), definitely check out Ring in the New Year tomorrow, bright and early!

Ring in the New Year Kids

An Hour of Code in Westchester: If this girl can learn computer programming, so can you.

Written by Emily Angell, Event Coordinator & Recording Studio Manager at the Digital Arts Experience, White Plains, NY.

I’ll be the first to admit that the term “coding” terrifies me, conjuring images of sitting in front of a computer for hours being forced to do math and look at numbers and logic statements, where inevitably I will fail at the most basic of tasks.

Fast forward to code.org‘s challenge for Computer Science Education week.  I began watching the creative and yes, somewhat inspiring videos all about learning to code, and how enjoyable it could be. And how beneficial! In addition to that, a couple of months ago we rolled out our first Game Programming with Java class at the DAE, where the kids literally build their own Rocket Launch game using Java (which can also be used in practical applications like coding elevator systems).  So I thought to myself, Okay Em, it’s time to get with the program.


I began watching the first tutorial.  I learned single FORWARD and TURN commands that would help the angry bird get the pig.

Hour of Code

And poof! Just like that I’m gratified. My angry bird got his pig. Mission accomplished.  8 lines of code in and I was on a roll, thus feeling compelled to go on.

Hour of Code

Suddenly, Mark Zuckerberg appears onscreen to tell me about loops, or simply repeating a command.  The repeat command allows the user to specify the number of times a command should repeat.  In a sense it encapsulates any command or series of commands inside of it, saving hundreds or even millions of lines of code.

Hour of Code

Next, Chris Bosh appears in a video explaining the REPEAT UNTIL box.  Which specifies that any command or series of commands inside of it repeat until a designated event or command takes place.  In this case, the commands were to repeat until the zombie reached the sunflower.

Hour of Code

I must also mention the genius of this particular intro to coding… the zombie proclaimed “braaaaaains” every time he reached the sunflower and that was just flat out encouraging for me.  But you don’t have to take my word for it… (just visit code.org).

Hour of Code

Next I explored IF statements. Basically, I would specify that the zombie would move forward.  Then, I would include that it should move left IF there were an option to do so.  Bill Gates did a nice job of explaining it to me.

Hour of Code

Lastly, we came to IF ELSE commands. I specified that the zombie should move FORWARD in the maze.  IF the zombie could move LEFT, it should. ELSE the zombie should move RIGHT (if it was unable to  move FORWARD or LEFT).  These basic commands enabled me to navigate the zombie maze with a very simple set of commands.  The crazy thing is, that these coded commands can be applied to something as small as an angry birds game, or as big as a Mars ROVER expedition.  My mind is still unboggling itself.

Hour of Code

Victory!  The first hour of code under my belt!  What’s funny is that I’m intrigued by how creative I can get with coding… which was something I would have never thought of before this moment.

Moral of the story: step outside of your comfort zone.  Try something new. Parents: encourage your kids to try to it too.  Kids: DO try this at home!

Minecraft Tournaments Come to Westchester

Minecraft Tournaments Come to The Digital Arts Experience Westchester County, NY – Nov. 20th, 2013

Written by Cristina Calabrese, Director of Operations and founding member at The Digital Arts Experience

Minecraft at The Digital Arts Experience

Millions of kids and teens are currently obsessed with a video game called Minecraft. But with the stigma that comes with most video games, does that mean your kids are in trouble?

Our simple answer: no.

According to a recent article in the New York Times entitled, “Disruptions: Minecraft, an Obsession and an Educational Tool”, writer Nick Bilton goes on to say,

…like the name suggests, the goal of the game is to craft, or build, structures in these 16-bit worlds, and figuring things out on your own is a big part of it. And parents, it’s not terribly violent. Sure, you can kill a few zombies while playing in the game’s “survival mode.” But in its “creative mode,” Minecraft is about building, exploration, creativity and even collaboration.

It’s true.

This past weekend, The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains, NY held its inaugural Minecraft build-off tournament for kids ages 9-12. Overwhelmed by the response, the event ended up overbooking with several kids on the waiting list.


These kids needed absolutely no direction. Not one kid sat there, stumped and said, “I don’t know what to build”. The creations and structures they built were astonishing. Treehouses suspended in the air, a lighthouse with a self-replenishing cafe, a rocket ship, a greenhouse. The detail and craftsmanship was just incredible.

Bilton goes on to say,

…a school in Stockholm made Minecraft compulsory for 13-year-old students. “They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future,” said Monica Ekman, a teacher at the Viktor Rydberg school.

The Digital Arts Experience has been looking for ways to engage kids using exciting, cutting-edge technologies. These Minecraft Tournaments spark creativity, critical thinking, application of the resources around them, quick problem solving and innovation.

As a result, The DAE is proud to announce the next date for its Minecraft Tournament:


SATURDAY, January 11, 2014

AGES 9-12: 1:00PM – 3:00PM

AGES 13-16: 3:30PM – 5:30PM



170 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 100

White Plains, NY 10601

(914) 644-8100.





Simon Cadel: A One of a Kind Comedian from Westchester

Simon Cadel is a one-of-a-kind kid. At the young age of thirteen, he has already begun his standup comedy career and worked hard to support a local nonprofit. Family Services of Westchester (FSW) is a private nonprofit agency in Westchester that offers social and mental health services for children, teens, adults and senior citizens in order to provide as much support for them as possible. Such programs include teen leadership programs, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and HeadStart, just to name a few.

Simon recently organized a comedy show, “Laugh Til It Helps,” at The Digital Arts Experience with his fellow young comedian friends to raise money for FSW and further their cause. The show was a great success and brought in $1,000 for FSW. Furthermore, it had been a dream of Simon’s to hold a comedy show to benefit a charity; to have that sort of ambition and thoughtfulness at 13 years old makes him stand apart from his peers. His knack for comedy is just the extra step that makes him such an outstanding kid.

Simon’s been classified not as a kid comedian, as the Digital Family Summit notes, “he’s a comedian who happens to be a kid.” Basically, he’s young for most comedians, but his delivery, presence and sense of humor show that he’s quick, witty and far more clever than the typical teen. He began studying comedy two years ago, attending camps, the Kids ‘N Comedy classes at the Gotham Comedy Club, and after-school programs.

Simon performed at showcases, videos of which circulated on YouTube and got the attention of comedy clubs like The Comic Strip Live and New York Comedy Club. Both clubs booked him for primetime weekend shows, despite the fact that otherwise, his age would not allow him to go inside! “I’m way too young to be here,” Simon had said when he first walked onstage at The Comic Strip Live. Maybe, but he’s also way too clever to be missed.

The DAE is proud and excited to see our student exhibiting such skill and creativity in his performances. We’ve even had the pleasure of having him do standup at The DAE’s first Open Mic in August, where his confidence and talent allowed him to shine and be completely unfazed by the audience. Simon is currently enrolled in our brand-new class, Game Programming with Java, which excites us to welcome him into The DAE community. Therefore, we’re more than happy to support his efforts in raising money for FSW or calling attention to important causes.

This Saturday, he’ll be participating in another great comedy night, Standup For Peace, which aims to bring comedy and matters of political importance together to open up the conversation. Standup For Peace is a show put on by the well-known political comedians, Scott Blakeman and Dean Obeidallah, to unite all ethnic/religious backgrounds in support of peace in the Middle East and worldwide.

Blakeman and Obeidallah have used their comedic talent to promote tolerance and peace at this critically acclaimed show for the past ten years. Now, Simon will be opening up for these big name comedians in order to show his support for the cause and it promises to be a hilarious night that you won’t want to miss. Standup For Peace is coming to The Purple Crayon in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY this Saturday, October 19th from 8pm-10pm. (Tickets can be purchased for $20 here.) We hope you will go out and support our student comedian and his great causes, see for yourself how great of a show he puts on!


This past weekend, Simon and his blogger mom Betsy spoke at the 2013 Digital Family Summit on Kid Fame: Right for Your Kid? Or You?. In November, Simon will be auditioning for America’s Got Talent and performing at Gotham Comedy Club, so keep an eye out for him!

Simon’s YouTube page can be found at www.youtube.com/simoncadel, check it out!

Learn About Arduino: Programming Class Now Offered in Westchester

by Megan Johnson, intern

We’ve talked before about the importance of learning coding in this day and age. But how do we begin to engage young students in such a seemingly complex field?

Open source programs offer a fun way for kids to discover a potential passion in coding. As Regina ten Bruggencate, senior Java developer for iPROFS, says, “Games can be a great way to get interested in programming,” including Minecraft and Arduino. These two programs are ones that we at The DAE teach our students in order to help them learn coding in a fun way!

According to Arduino’s website,

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

Arduino functions as an inexpensive microcontroller module that can be as easy or as advanced as users need it to be.  For those who don’t know, an open-source program, like Arduino, has codes that are openly available to the public for use or modification at no cost. The point of using programs like Arduino and Minecraft is to teach kids how to program games, meanwhile teaching them all about computer programming without any unnecessary computer jargon that goes over their heads.

As we mentioned in a recent post, computer programming jobs are steadily increasing. Oracle OpenWorld argues that it is incredibly relevant and important for kids to learn programming:

Who cares if kids don’t become involved in IT? Well, many people should. Data shows that well-paying careers will be sent overseas if qualified candidates can’t be found on home soil. As technology becomes increasingly integrated in daily life, the number of opportunities is likely to continue to rise.

What a concept. Having kids play games and design their own is a way to give them a secure future, not to mention some pretty awesome new skills.


Interested in having YOUR children learn Arduino or Minecraft?
Check out our upcoming events and class offerings!

Minecraft Tournament (Ages 9-13) Sat, Nov 16th 11AM – 12PM

Intro to Arduino  (Ages 13-17) Tues 4:00PM – 7:00PM starting Dec. 3rd

Physical Computing Project Lab: Arduino (Ages 13-17) Wed 6PM – 8PM starting Dec 4th

Check out our other programs being offered here.