By Darius Kwak and Stephanie Yuvienco
The Gaming Studio, a state-of-the-art center offering students an after-school STEM program, will open its doors in Syosset, Long Island tomorrow.
Twice the size of CulturePlay, its sister store in East Meadow, TGS offers three robotics stations for Lego WeDo 2.0, Vex robotics and an Osmo iOS learning section priced at $479 for 10-weeks. An HTC and Oculus virtual reality section and three gaming hubs, armed with the latest versions of the Wii U, Playstation and Xbox, completes the whole inventory.
“I graduated with a computer science degree and now work for a company in financial technology,” Bob Fryer, a parent, said. “Kids need to get more into these things, so if my daughter Abby can get a leg up on that, that would be exciting.” Fryer brought his daughter to the TGS open house after seeing Abby’s interest in Minecraft during a recent birthday party.
The founders of TGS wanted to create a space for younger kids to socialize and learn about technology.
“I’ve been teaching at Hofstra for the last 14 years,” Dr. Roberto Joseph, an Associate Professor at Hofstra University and co-founder of TGS, said. “I wanted to work with parents and their kids to develop STEM skills and TGS is the birth of that idea.”
The new center caters to children and teens grades K through 12. For an hour and half, groups of like-minded students expand their analytical, mechanical and technical problem-solving skills. The certified instructors are mainly comprised of high school seniors with extensive STEM experience.
The Lego Robotics WeDo 2.0 software introduces children ages seven and up to a drag-and-drop interface that ushers them into coding and graphics. It acknowledges the complexity of coding by making it simple for younger children to enjoy.
“You have to be able to explain it in a non-technical way and make that connection to the technical aspect so the lightbulbs go off and they understand it,” Sandra Kopecky, an adjunct computer science professor at New York Institute of Technology, said. Like the WeDo software, Kopecky uses a non-technical approach when teaching.
This peaking interest in making STEM programs readily available to children on Long Island correlates with data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. STEM occupations are growing at 17 percent, which is higher than the national average of 9.8 percent.
“When the robotics class started in 2015, there was only one section,” John Chae, the head STEM robotics teacher at Syosset High school, said. “Now there are three sections with more coding and programming involved and we’ve been pushing to trickle this curriculum down to the middle schools and elementary schools across the district.”
Although sign-ups have been slow, TGS has been using Facebook to advertise and have been offering open houses to the public. Parents attended the last open house before its grand opening to ensure that their kids enjoy the new equipment.
“Harrison doesn’t like sports, but he likes robots and being indoors,” Daphne Cirino, another parent who attended the open house, said. “It’s just something he’s interested in and it makes him social in our society and things around him.”
The future success of institutions such as TGS relies on the parent’s continued involvement into after-school programs other than karate and Kumon.
“This institution is a marriage of mechanical and technical programming to help students solve problems,” Christine Owens, the head computer science teacher at Syosset High School, said. “Anything that provides students of any age exposure to STEM will always be a good thing.”