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Philadelphia student Zora Ball has become the youngest person to create a completed version of a mobile video game application. The seven year old showed off her digital brainchild at the Bootstrap Expo held at the University of Philadelphia.

Ball is in the first grade, and has become a pro at Bootstrap programming, which she used to configure the game, and was able to do so upon request, while showing off her creation. She learned the technology through the Harambee  Institute of Science and Technology where she attends. The school has an after-school program, known as the STEMnasium Learning Academy, which is where Ball honed in on her skills.


Bootstrapping has many definitions. According to several technology resources, in computers, pressing a bootstrap button causes a hardwired program to read a bootstrap program from an input unit. The computer would then execute the bootstrap program, which caused it to read more program instructions. It became a self-sustaining process that proceeded without external help from manually entered instructions. In complex applications – such as the game Ball created – Bootstrapping allows for the input and implementation of a string of several complex commands. The exact incarnation of Bootstrap that Ball used was a standards-based curriculum and programming environment supported by the Foundation for the Advancement of Technology in Education. This specific program teaches students to program their own video games and applications using purely algebraic and geometric concepts.

Harambee was one of Philadelphia’s first charter schools, and has become an important and widely recognized part of the city’s system of education. Since its founding nearly two decades ago by late educator Baba Skief, Harambee has been a frontrunner in community service and development. The charter school has served as a local source for visual and performing arts and has been identified as a leader in education and training programs. Harambee has earned the support of the West Philadelphia community and the recognition of state and local officials for outstanding service.

“I am proud of all my students,” said science teacher and founder of the STEMnasium program, Tariq Al-Nasir.“ Their dedication to this program is phenomenal, and they come to class every Saturday, including holiday breaks.”

The Saturday program runs for 48 weeks, not including eight weeks in the summer, and allows any students enrolled in a Philadelphia public school to attend. Al-Nasir is currently in the process of teaching students Mandarin.