Kids from the Homewood-Brushton YMCA recently explored outer space – by journeying to a Bridgeville business park.
The space-themed, three-day field trip was hosted by DDI tech workers, a leadership consulting company. They invited kids from the Y Creator Space program, which teaches, “innovation, collaboration, and problem-solving skills through projects involving 3D printing, robotics, graphic design, circuitry, engineering, and more," according to the program's website.
In a DDI conference room, nine-year-old Ciona Gordon prepared to launch her rocket ship by blowing up a pink balloon carrying a cargo of yellow pipe cleaners. Gordon said this is the second prototype of her vessel.
“Our first design...we had a bag that was too heavy,” she said.
DDI staff led kids in several science and engineering activities, including basic computer coding by programing Amazon Echos to tell the story of their space adventure.
"Once they understand it a little bit they seem to light up," said program coordinator Amy Liston, who works on software development for DDI. "We took them into the computer labs, and we showed them some games and some ways that they can very earily make the correlation between dragging a command over and visually seeing what that does."
Liston said some of the kids have expressed interest in pursuing a career in a science, technology or engineering field.
Kevin Bolding, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, said the field trip exposed kids to a tech jobs and broadened their horizons.
“I love the fact that the kids can be creative, and we’re showing them ways to be creative,” he said. “Someone told me that one of the kids said, ‘Boy I believe now, if I dream it, I can actually make it happen.’”