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Want to Play? Afterschool Educator Sadeon Develops a New Video Game

April 16, 2020

Jennifer Friedlin

In school, Sadeon Martin felt like an outsider because unlike many of his peers he was never into art classes and projects. But when his school added digital arts, Sadeon found his passion.

“We created and edited videos and that was my favorite class ever,” says Sadeon, who graduated York College in 2019 with a degree in information systems management.

Now working as an afterschool and camp educator with Child Center of New York at PS 56 in Queens, Sadeon, 22, shares this joy with his students and campers, knowing that “there is bound to be one kid who was like me and didn’t like anything else.”

Last year, Sadeon’s boss suggested he take his passion even further and enroll in ExpandED Schools’ Pathways Computer Science Program at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.

Designed for anyone who has an interest in youth development or teaching with technology, Pathways Computer Science at LaGuardia provides a mix of classroom and real-word teaching experience. Participants receive 45 hours of education fundamentals along with computer science training.

A highlight of the program is that participants get to practice what they are learning through a 12-week paid teaching assignment in afterschool. And participants like Sadeon, who are already program directors in an afterschool program, receive additional professional development to learn how to run an afterschool computer science program based on the coding program known as Scratch, which enables kids as young as eight to code.

When Coronavirus broke, Sadeon was in the middle of the unit on lesson-planning.

“In creating a good lesson plan for tech you have to bring in the ideas they already know, like the arts and writing, and then they get to create a game or animation themselves,” Sadeon explains.

He was also starting to tackle an assignment to use Scratch to code a simple maze game. A little bored during the lockdown, he decided to take the task a few steps further, creating a space-themed game with a backstory. You can see and play Sadeon’s game, “Castor Crusader,” here.

“Coding for the most part is very rigid but Scratch brings in a creative component,” Sadeon says. “That’s my favorite part, creating a game plan and a story and putting that into animation.”

When he is not coding, Sadeon is still working daily and attending Pathways on Fridays, albeit virtually.

These days afterschool largely consists of math and reading games and “a lot of Pictionary,” Sadeon says. There is also some gym and art.

When life returns to normal, Sadeon is looking forward to bringing his developing Scratch skills into his classroom. His goal is to start a Scratch club to teach third through fifth graders to code and make animations and games. Sadeon is confident his students will take to Scratch.

“You can get most kids into technology because they definitely enjoy working with computers and iPads,” Sadeon says.