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On A Positive Note: Sewickley Academy makes robotics and programming available to students

On A Positive Note: Local students want to learn coding and robotics 02:34

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For many of us, the only code we knew in high school got us into our lockers.

Now, many local students want to learn coding and robotics. Sewickley Academy heard the request and answered.

"In middle school, I was doing some programming alone. I was searching YouTube videos, Google searches on how to do it," said Dov Abrahim Kanner, a freshman at Sewickley Academy.

He is now thrilled to be at a school that offers classes in his passion: anything with computers. 

"I don't know, it's sort of like math. It makes sense when you do this and do that," he said.

He is the prime example of why Head of School Ashley Birtwell switched things up, focusing on the tech of the future.

"I questioned, is there a student demand for it? So, I stepped into this role as head of school, I started asking students and there's tremendous student interest for us to grow our programs."

It is all about robotics, programming, entrepreneurship and creating in the school's "maker space." Faculty member Erin Whitaker watches as students take the initiative and learn outside the traditional classroom setting. 

"Hand tools with the workbench, technology tools with the 3D printers that are used to make board games, we have the laser engraver. I had a student in here yesterday that was sewing with the sewing machine," said Whitaker, the middle school technology coordinator. 

It is not happening in all schools, but Birtwell wants this independent academy to lead the charge. 

"We're expanding into cyber security, artificial intelligence, machine learning," she said. "But of course, as you expand your course offerings, you also need to expand your facilities. So, we're underway building out some new computer science labs, robotics spaces and an esport space."

It is preparing students not just for college, but beyond.

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