Zora Ball, a 7-year-old prodigy, is the youngest person to create a mobile video game.
She’s in the first grade – and she’s black.
Zora is a high-tech kid in a high-tech world who is already a serious inventor in a competitive global marketplace.
The brilliant youngster from Philadelphia applied her math skills to design the video game using programming language Bootstrap, which is usually taught to older students — between the ages of 12 and 16 — to help them learn algebra.
Zora’s mobile game was introduced last month during the University of Pennsylvania’s Bootstrap Expo. She attends the Harambee Institute of Science and Technology, a charter school in Philadelphia and she also joins an after-school program called The STEMnasium Learning Academy, which also teaches students Mandarin.
“We expect great things from Zora, as her older brother, Trace Ball, is a past STEM Scholar of the Year,” said Harambee Science Teacher Tariq Al-Nasir, who is also the founder of the STEMnasium Learning Academy.
Zora, a math phenomenon, is also a shining example of what black children can accomplish when offered a quality education and an opportunity to succeed.
There are too many black children in America who are not being nurtured in the public school system, either because there are too many kids in crowded classrooms, or they don’t get the home support they need, or they are overlooked by overworked teachers.
In the case of black males, for example, a 2012 report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education, found that only 52 percent of black male ninth-graders graduate from high school four years later, while 78 per cent of white ninth-graders graduate four years later.
Over the past nine years, there has been some progress in the national graduation rate for male students across the board, according to the report, but it would take nearly 50 years for black males to secure the same high school graduation rates as their white male peers.
But some children, like Zora, are getting opportunities to use their God-given talents in math, science and technology despite studies that suggest black children are consuming more media than any other racial group.
A study compiled by Northwestern University, “Children, Media and Race: Media Use Among White, Black, Hispanic and Asian American Children,” is the first national study focused specifically on media consumption by race and ethnicity.
The findings show black and Hispanic youth consume more than three hours of television daily. Whites and Asians consumed more than two hours. Technologies such as DVDs, TiVo, and mobile and online viewing increased television consumption to 5 hours and 54 minutes for black children, 5 hours and 21 minutes for Hispanics, 4 hours and 41 minutes for Asians, and 3 hours and 36 minutes for whites.
For many black children television takes away from study time and homework, but for others, online viewing could stimulate creativity and innovative thinking while producing high-tech masterminds like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.
Last year, the Obama Administration proposed creating a new agency within the Department of Education that will fund the development of new education technologies and promote their use in the classroom.
Even at an early age, Zora Ball epitomizes this bold White House initiative as one of America’s youngest role models and emerging technology gurus.