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NYPA launches new 'Sensational Science Saturdays' program at Niagara Power Vista


Wed, Jan 10th 2018 04:15 pm
Free computer programming workshops start this Saturday
Children, grades 5 to 8, and of all ages are invited to learn about computer programming in free hands-on workshops through a new, first-time "Sensational Science Saturdays" series at the Niagara Power Vista.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA), in collaboration with WNY Stem Hub Inc. and Computers for Children | MISSION: IGNITE, are sponsoring the program, which will offer workshops on JavaScript, 3-D printing, robotics, Minecraft and Micro Bits, starting Saturday, Jan. 13.
"Technology is changing every day and our youth need to be skilled in these new technologies so that doors are open to them for new careers and opportunities," said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. "The 'Sensational Science Saturdays' program at the Niagara Power Vista is a great way for our young New Yorkers and visitors to have fun while preparing for the digital future."
Classes are targeted to children in grades 5 to 8, although young people in other grades are also welcome to participate. Children can take one class or participate in the entire series.
Each class is limited to 15 students. Reservations can be made by emailing [email protected] or by calling 716-286-6661.
All programs will be held in the Power Vista Classroom from 1-3 p.m.
The first class, animation, allows students to create characters that will "talk" and perform actions using design features of the scratch programming language. Students can also learn how to design the animation using and coding a storyboard.
" 'Sensational Science Saturdays' are great ways for students to build their computer skills while having fun in an interesting setting," said Cherie Messore, executive director of WNY Stem Hub Inc. "Of course we hope this leads students to continue their computer learning and puts them on a path for technology-based careers that are such an important part of the Western New York economy."
"We are honored to be a part of the 'Sensational (Science) Saturdays' program supporting computer science learning for middle school students, giving them opportunities to learn about technology principles and greater advantage to discover their own passion for future education and careers," said Christine Carr, executive director, Computers For Children | MISSION: IGNITE.
Additional classes to be offered in session one include:
Jan. 20 - 3-D printing - Participants will learn to design a simple 3-D model, convert the model to G code and set up and run a basic 3-D printer.
Jan. 27 - Minecraft - Learn the basics of computer science by programming Alex or Steve to move through a simulated piece of a Minecraft world. Traditional programming is usually in text, but participants will use Blockly, a system that uses visual blocks that one can drag and drop to write programs.
Feb. 3 - Robotics -Students will learn how to make a tabletop robot move and sense its environment. Participants will explore basic electronics and prototype circuits. They will also use the Arduino programming language to do beginner level coding including input, output, looping and variables.
Feb. 10 - JavaScript - Develop your own news story or game using the features of the JavaScript programming language. Learn about JavaScript, which is a programming language that can talk directly to web pages. Create a story using video, graphics and audio, and enjoy trying different techniques.
Feb. 17 - Micro Bits - Micro Bits are programmable devices that are smaller than a credit card. A display of 36 tiny LED lights can be used to make letters or images, along with buttons and sensors that allow for programming of simple games. Learn how to display messages and counters and, finally, to program a rock, paper, scissors game.
Classes to be offered in session two:
March 3 - 3-D Printing
March 10 - Animation - Create your own story with characters who interact with each other and you. The characters will "talk" and perform actions you design using the features of the scratch programming language. Learn how to design the animation using a storyboard and then code it. 
March 17 - JavaScript
April 14 - Minecraft
April 21 - Robotics
April 28 - Micro Bits
Participants and their families are also invited to enjoy the Power Vista's state-of-the-art exhibits by taking a seat in the 4-D simulated ride, creating a transmission distribution system on a one-of-a-kind transmission grid table, building a dam or simulating the coordination of power across the state.
Admission and parking are free. Families who have one child participate in "Science Saturdays" can enjoy the museum with other family members while their "Science Saturday" student is busy with the program.
About the Niagara Power Vista
The Niagara Power Vista is a free hands-on science playground at the Niagara Power Project with more than 50 state-of-the-art interactive exhibits. Operated by NYPA, the visitor center is designed for inquisitive minds of all ages with special emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) concepts and careers. Visitors can experience a virtual rollercoaster, build a dam, operate a power plant, run the state grid, watch digital portraits of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison debate the benefits of alternating and direct current, and enjoy 350-foot-high views from an observation deck above the Niagara River.
The Power Vista is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, excluding some holidays, with free parking. It is located at 5777 Lewiston Road (Route 104) in Lewiston. For more information, call 716-286-6661 or visit www.nypa.gov/vc/niagara.htm.

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