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.  

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

 

Learn how to Create a Website, how to use WordPress and How to connect a Website to a Domain: Web Design Classes for Adults in Westchester.

Adult School in Westchester: The DAE in White Plains offers adult education classes on how to create a website, how to connect a website to a domain and how to use WordPress. Learn layouts, formatting and just enough HTML/CSS to maintain your site properly and update it accordingly.

Classes are enrolling now. Learn more & register: TheDAE.com/AdultClasses or call 914-644-8100.

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Adult Classes in Photography, Coding, 3D Printing, Video Editing, Creating a Website & More in Westchester County

STEM/STEAM (Science Technology Engineering (Arts &) Math) Education isn’t just for kids in White Plains, Scarsdale, Valhalla, Larchmont and surrounding communities, but for adults as well. Watch DAE Founder & President Rob Kissner talk about our new DSLR Photography, Video Editing, Creating a Website, 3D Printing and Programming classes for adults.

WHO WE ARE:

A tight-knit community. We are all lifelong learners.
An escape. Life is crazy. Tech is fun.
Enthusiasts, leaders and innovators. We enjoy working with technology and get excited to share our knowledge with family and friends.
Role models for our kids. Because if we don’t adapt & grow with tech, how can we expect them to?
An experience. Things come and go but experiences last a lifetime.

Visit us: TheDAE.com/adultclasses

Call us: 914-644-8100

Email us: info@thedae.com

Jeff Soto, programming Instructor at The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains, Westchester, NY.

New STEM and programming courses for kids in Westchester!

We, here at The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains, Westchester NY, are proud and excited to announce two NEW programming and web development courses for kids that we are currently adding, and a few extra courses coming this year!

Text-Adventures with Java:

We will be teaching an advanced Java Course that will build off of and develop the skills learned in our Java 101 Course. Students will spend time learning how developers in the real-world face complex problems. They will learn how to think ambiguously, write pseudocode, and develop algorithms to solve the problems they will encounter as they progress through the course. Furthermore, their Final Project will be in the form of a text-adventure, in which, the students will create their own story-line. Our objective is to teach the Java language in depth, while facilitating a fun, creative, engaging, and hands-on experience that encourages curiosity, teamwork, and critical thinking. This course will be a prerequisite to one of our future courses coming this year; Web Applications with Java: Hard-Coding a 2D game.

Programming 101 using Ruby:

This course is specifically designed to teach the core concepts of programming. We have designed the curriculum with the goal of teaching our students to think like a programmer. Students will learn to embrace abstract thought and practice common coding conventions. Being able to code with convention and conciseness in mind, is key to creating beautiful reusable code, that can be distributed worldwide. The Ruby programming language is currently sky-rocketing within the software industry, with employers seeking candidates whom are not only educated in the language, but are able to think pragmatically. This course assumes no prior programming experience, but is equally useful for those on an intermediate level.

COMING SOON:

  • Intro to JavaScript
  • Intro to jQuery
  • HTML5 Canvas: Game Development for The Web
  • Web Applications with Ruby on Rails
  • Android App Development with Android Studio
  • iOS App Development with Swift
  • Java Applets: 2D Game Creation

Why Take These Courses?

To put it simply…. because you should become digitally literate. Programming is, in essence, applied Math and Science. It teaches us to think smarter, faster, and more efficiently. It’s no secret that software and computers are changing our society. With so many of our industries relying on Software Programs to automate their daily tasks, it’s becoming more and more evident that we need to educate not only ourselves, but our youth. The tech industry is booming. Job growth is estimated to increase between 20% and 30% for Computer related fields by the year 2020. Employers are seeking computer literate individuals more than ever before. To add to that, in 2013, a study conducted by the Census Bureau found that 83.8% of households reported computer ownership, and 73.4% reported internet use. With STEM technology rapidly evolving and embedding itself in our daily lives, it is imperative that we learn how computers communicate, and what goes into creating, reading, and writing software programs. Below is a small list of a few jobs in the software industry and their respected average salaries: (Keep in mind the estimated 30% job growth in this industry)

1) Java Developers

2) Ruby Developers

3) Web Developers

To sum it up, we urge you to come learn with us. Tell your friends and family, and spread the word. The Digital Arts Experience of White Plains in Westchester is committed to empowering today’s youth, as well as, any adult whom wants to learn or sharpen their digital skills! Contact us via email, phone, or website. Thank you for reading!

-Jeff, Software Instructor at The Digital Arts Experience

Jeff Soto, programming Instructor at The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains, Westchester, NY.

Jeff Soto, programming Instructor at The Digital Arts Experience in White Plains, Westchester, NY.


To learn more about the programming, web development (HTML5), coding and STEM classes that we are offering for kids and teens in Westchester County, visit our website at www.TheDAE.com.

To view our After School schedule, click here.

To view our Summer STEM Camps, click here.

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

www.TheDAE.com

facebook.com/TheDAExperience

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.

Pun.

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!

3D Printing Classes in Westchester

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We are excited to announce the arrival of our new MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer. 3D printing technology has been in the news, on TV, and all over the Internet. It has revolutionized medicine, manufacturing, and even space travel. To many, 3D printing is simply very “neat” technology. It is our goal at The DAE to prove that this incredible technology offers a lot more than the ability to print cool objects.

There are a number of different 3D printing technologies, including industrial printers that create objects from metal or ceramic. Our printer uses a process called extrusion deposition and creates objects from plastic. In other words, it has what is similar to the head of a glue gun that heats, melts and extrudes plastic filament. The heated plastic is laid out layer by layer and the object being created is built from the bottom up. The material is inexpensive, the process is fairly quick, and the objects created come out magnificent!

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A completely working nut & bolt, created by our Makerbot 3D Printer


We look at our MakerBot as a tool. It is really neat and it’s fun to create abstract shapes and cool objects, but our focus is on how it can be used as a tool to solve problems. For example, The DAE was incorrectly shipped 200+ rolls of toilet paper that don’t fit on a traditional holder. The hole through the center of the roll is smaller in diameter than a tradition toilet paper core. Rather than throw away the rolls, we fabricated a new core using a free piece of software called TinkerCad, and printed the new cores with our MakerBot.

Using the MakerBot in this scenario requires the creativity and imagination to conceive of a product that solves the problem at hand. It requires the skills to accurately measure and model the product to the correct dimensions. And it requires the knowledge and technique to print the product in the most efficient way. Our goal is to facilitate the development of these skills in our classes, using the MakerBot to do so.

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Join us December 17th for our special “Discover 3D Printing Technology” event and check out this technology for yourself: http://dae3drelease.eventbrite.com/