Computer Science Education Week has kicked off for most K-12 students across the United States. The week is annually highlighted as a way to encourage and inspire children to take an early interest in computer science and coding programs.
Student coders in Chicago received added incentive when Chance the Rapper announced through his charity SocialWorks that a superhero-themed game coded by Chicago Public School students would serve as the official video game of his song, “I Love You So Much” with DJ Khaled. The song was featured on Khaled's 2017 album Grateful. It's the first time a platinum-selling music artist has released a coding video game in place of a music video, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“The kids in Chicago Public Schools are amazing, creative and inspiring young coders," the rapper is heard saying in the video. "And guess what, you know how some artists have official music videos? Well, I'm making 'SuperMe' the official video game for my song. Go play it."
The rapper and Chicago Native founded SocialWorks in 2016 with the mission to “empower the youth through the arts, education, and civil engagement.”
The game, titled “SuperMe,” was unveiled in a ceremony this past Monday at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago in front of nearly 400 students and staff of Chicago Public Schools. The game detailed real superhero images in the likeness of the students who created it using Scratch technology through CS4All. The software was developed to help children and beginner-level programmers get creative with coding.
For co-founder and executive director of SocialWorks, Justin Cunningham, the program was about more than coding itself. It was a bonding experience.
"We had opportunities where families were able to come together, eat some food after school and then crack open a laptop and use it as a creative tool," he said.
The students gave input and ideas for the game through in-class activities and projects as well.
Computer science is so vital today, especially in low-income areas with minority populated schools, according to code.org. It is noted that schools in low-income areas are 12 times less likely to offer programs centered around computer science. The game created by the students was intentionally created as a fun way to spark their interest as they grow and explore new avenues in coding and programming.
In addition, SocialWorks and CS4All received a $250,000 grant from Google to continue their work with students and computer science.The grant will specifically assist in widening access to computer science for students on the Southside of Chicago.