Youngest video game programmer sets Guinness world record
Young, Gifted & Black Series
By Taki S. Raton
She is young, gifted, and Black. Zora Ball became the youngest person ever to create a full version of a mobile video game application. Her creation was unveiled at the FATE Bootstrap Expo held this past January at the University of Pennsylvania. FATE is the Foundation for the Advancement of Technology in Education, a non-profit corporation whose mission is to promote the skilled and intelligent use of education technology by educators and learners through targeted demonstration, funding and community networking in the Greater Philadelphia area.
According to a February 20, 2013 World Record Academy posting, Zora set a world record at the FATE event. It is further shared in this account that she created the video game in a class at Harambee Institute which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The class is taught by Tariqu Al-Nasir who heads the STEMnasium Learning Academy.
As noted in Beck’s February 14, 2013 JEZEBEL’s blog, “7-Year-Old Zora Ball Is the World’s Youngest Game Programmer,” Al-Nasir says of our youngest inventor that, “We expect great things from Zora, as her older brother, Trace Ball, is a past STEM scholar of the year.” STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Skeptics at the FATE Expo however wanted further confirmation that it was she who developed the program and not her older brother Trace who could have been the mastermind behind the programming.
“But Zora showed them,” writes Beck. “When asked to reconfigure the application on the spot, she showed naysayers what was up when she executed the request perfectly.”
The Harambee board in a published release to their PTA membership asked that they “Please join the board in congratulating Curtis and Jackie Ball on the recent achievement of their daughter, Zora.” The congratulatory remarks add that “we are very proud of Zora and look to Jackie and Curtis as a exemplary model of the positive effects of involved parenting. We also commend Baba Tariq on his dedication to his students and look forward to the many more accomplishments to follow.”
Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School is one of the more exemplary African Centered school models in the country. The earlier Harambee Institute was formed as an Independent Black Institution (IBI) in the early 1970’s and was established as one of Philadelphia’s first public charter school and Pennsylvania’s first African American charter school shortly after that state passed the Charter School Act in 1997.
Founder John Skief, as noted on the school’s web page, was a firm believer that teaching children to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem was critical to their educational success. It was his position that the only way to combat the negative portrayals of Black youth in the media was to restore African American’s true identity by reconnecting them to their African heritage.
Functioning both as a teaching and character cultivating model, the African Centered curriculum places the African world experience from humankind origin to the present at the center of the student’s instructional and social developmental educational outcomes.
Al-Nasir said that his first grade students at Harambee are going to be designing more elaborate games based on the Alice programming language at which time will enter them into competition. His eighth and ninth grade students are developing an application using Java and C programming called “Let Freedom Ring” in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.