Fun Friday: The Digital Dance

Last week at the Annual NYC Computer Science Fair, I got to judge a student coding project showcase. The team that won was 50 young women from the Young Women’s Leadership School in Astoria Queens.

These young women choreographed a dance routine using software and hardware engineering. The used LED lighting strips and Sphero robots to animate their dance routine and they wrote the software code that synchronized the music and dance routine with the hardware.

Here is the dance performance:

And here is how they made it happen:

I love this for so many reasons, but here are a few of them:

  1. Young women have not been as interested in software and hardware engineering because we have not made it relevant to their interests. This is an example of how to do that.
  2. The Digital Dance has now become an annual event at this school, the next one is coming up this spring, so another 50 or so young women will be exposed to hardware and software engineering each year.
  3. This is something that other schools can and should do. It could become a “thing” and I hope it will.
  4. It’s awesome.
#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Very smart intersection of art with technology.

    1. Ritha D Burgos

      Thank you!

    2. Alondra

      Thank you William, we appreciate your recognition!

    3. Ayah Badawy

      Hello, my name is Ayah and I am part of the community in TYWLS school that was around during the creating of Digital Dance. I find the ideology of digital dancing outstanding as well because of its uniqueness in combining two traditional activities (interpretive dance and technology) into a fairly new creation. Thank you so much for your insight, we appreciate the feedback!

    4. Ishika Momin

      Thank you! We took time and planned out our process to ensure that we communicated this blend of technology and the arts in the most knowledgeable way possible. Our goal was to expose more young women to STEM fields by showing that there is a way to mix many passions!

  2. pointsnfigures

    Cool! I hope they had a major hand in making and producing the video as well.

    1. Nazaret C

      Hi, I’m one of the girls that presented the dance, and yes, girls from our Tech Crew filmed and edited the video and documentary!

  3. Anne Libby


  4. David Semeria

    “Student” covers a wide age band. I’m guessing the young woman involved were aged around 15. If that’s the case then what they achieved is impressive.

    1. Nazaret C

      Girls from our school from 6th to 12th grade were all part of the creation of the digital dance, so that’s an age range of about 11 through 18.

  5. awaldstein

    very cool.

  6. jason wright

    5. The Union of Choreographers just took a hit.

  7. karen_e

    There was a female founder panel at Venture Cafe in Cambridge (MA) recently, where a young founder spoke about her experiences raising money (she’s raised $14m so far). She told the story of doing a deep dive into the VC’s who had given her money versus the many who passed on the opp. What did the backers have in common? They all had daughters. Keep being you, Fred.

    1. Twain Twain

      These young women are BRILLIANT! HURRAH!I’ve also noticed this about guys who are more evolved about empowering and investing in women in the workplace …They all have SMART, KICKASS WIVES who hold them to account on inclusion issues, let them be Alpha adults AND better human beings than stunted fratboi dufus.These women are as responsible as daughters are for leading and shaping the values of successful men.See the tribute Zuckerberg paid to his wife: “I love her expression: intense yet kind, fierce yet loving, leading yet always supporting others. Thank you to Annie Leibovitz for capturing her spirit so beautifully.”Super-successful guys have FIERCE wives and daughters.

  8. Melinda Fishman

    Filled with joy for the girls and everyone involved. Thanks Fred. Made my Friday!

  9. jooltman

    Scalable, multi-disciplinary, inspiring. This made my morning!

  10. DJL

    How cool is that. Inspiring. I am having my daughter watch this over the weekend (after she finishes the Masters).

    1. Karina P

      Thank you! We appreciate all the lovely feedback and comments.

  11. Repuvue Marketing Agency


  12. Henry Chalian

    Joy & Magic – a much needed Friday morning mental boost!

  13. Robert Heiblim

    Wonderful, worth sharing

  14. panterosa,

    This is fun, and I’m sure the next one will be too, with more light bulbs having been lit in their minds.Anyone who needs assurance girls “artistic” interests dovetail with STEM (hence creating STEAM) must see the Crochet Coral Reef TED talk (…In re the “leaky STEM pipeline” for girls:Some girls just get on with it through passion and drive. Others wait for approval/permission/acceptance from others.The rest are perhaps afraid, or maybe not inclinedIt’s the second group who you see in the dance, led by some of the first group (a good pairing).I taught high school girls at the YWCA in game design and app design. Most of the advanced girls are waiting for the great snoozing mass to realize they have what it takes. Those who want “permission” will only have it when the snoozing mass wake up – and I think that is Fred’s deep hope.

    1. PhilipSugar

      You know I think many events have really helped with this. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…I can’t load a movie and I won’t to youtube, but here is a picture of our Lego team which won third in the state’s. Two of the best programmers were the girls. The girl holding the trophy was by far the best.

      1. panterosa,

        That’s so great Phil, the team, the winning, the girls. Rock on!

      1. panterosa,

        I totally agree.

      2. Emily

        Hello! My name is Emily and I am one of the girls who helped out in the Digital Dance. I would like to thank you for your kind words about our video and wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment about girls getting involved in the STEAM field. Our primary object as TechCrew is not just to involve more girls into computer science, as well as incorporating the “A” in the STEAM field.

        1. Twain Twain

          Dear @disqus_p2YVY7CyRF:disqus @ayahbadawy:disqus @nuranghoneim:disqus @lisettet:disqus Ishida, Alondra, Ritha, Marzana, Marielly, Nazaret, Camryn, Karina —Keep up the great work and, hopefully, you’ll all go on to study STEAM in college. I did Maths and now I’m an inventor.Always remember Da Vinci who was a STEAM master. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…And be sure that there are folks in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s…80s who are inspired by your work, to continue to add their two cents to make STEAM more accessible to and FOR everyone.So continue to be individually and collectively BRILLIANT, and make tech that brings joy and Enlightenment to others.Feel free to drop by any time and speak your minds about our views on things because we have a lot to learn from all of you too!—–@@karen_e:disqus @panterosa:disqus @MsPseudolus:disqus @do@donnawhite:disqus @lavonnereimer:disqus @annelibby:disqus @philipsugar:disqus @wmoug:disqus @pointsnfigures:disqus @SixgillBlog:disqus @jasonpwright:disqus — Now our bar’s got another generation of perspectives!

    2. Twain Twain

      The great Admiral Grace Murray Hopper:https://uploads.disquscdn.c…When I was 2, I decided to crack open my grandparents’ gates and self-navigate to my friend’s house WITHOUT PERMISSION. As my mother likes to recount, my grandpa almost had a heart attack when he saw I was AWOL.In school and my professional career, I was very well-behaved and successful in securing permissions. For example, getting the Global Head of eCommerce at UBS investment bank to sign-off on my system based on the first slide of my presentation which showed a chemical molecule instead of the usual “Here’s a matrix and everyone wants to be in the upper right quadrant.”In inventing my system, though, I’ve had to revert to the Grace Murray Hopper school of thinking and doing because THERE WAS NO ONE with the authority to guide me during the invention process — since no one’s solved the Natural Language Understanding problem yet, and it’s pretty clear that both existing schools of thought on NLU are amiss (and iterating on systems that are known to be amiss/broken) is not something I’d do.So if I’d waited for permission / approval / acceptance, I’d never have invented it.Oh and the AI community is only now “waking up” to things I knew years ago about the biases in the data and the systems:*….So it’s just as well I didn’t ask for permission and went ahead and invented a cool solution to de-bias all data, Natural Language AI, economics models etc, eh?LOL.

  15. LaVonne Reimer

    This is fabulous. As others have noted, the best way to end the week. Thank you for that and kudos for being involved and showcasing it as well. But, as to your first point. I’m one of many women who can point to fascination with engineering from a very young age. We always were able to connect the dots between engineering and areas of interest to us. I’m not convinced it’s any different today. The challenge has been the ways in which it can seem like a boys club with a secret language or a definition of engineering that appeals to a particular mindset. Okay, now moving to end the comment on a positive note. This is a brilliant example of similarities in music and math, science and art, choreography and engineering. Hold that thought above all others. These young women are showing you how to re-imagine innovation!

    1. panterosa,

      see my comment below re boys club

      1. LaVonne Reimer

        I would have answered quickly but thought I’d just look at the first couple minutes of the TED talk you linked. You probably won’t be surprised that I got completely caught up in it and had to watch to the very end. This is near and dear to my heart today for an additional reason. I spoke at a Fintech event last night about machine learning and AI in financial applications. I decided to start with the fact that I’m a musician and to me the problem of managing complicated data-sets is a lot like adapting a piano piece for a 96 piece orchestra. I feared being questioned by a bunch of quants but it seemed to resonate. In any event, thanks for the pointer. I do love that you apparently were writing your comment at the same time as me!

        1. panterosa,

          It makes total sense to analogize to the arts, so not surprised. Since you enjoyed the talk, you may share my enthusiasm that I got M. Wertheim to look at my work, and when she gave it praise I levitated.

  16. Vasudev Ram

    Very graceful movements. In parts of the video it looked like they were floating.

  17. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:OFF TOPIC ALERT:The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today allowed marketing of 23andMe Personal Genome Service Genetic Health Risk (GHR) tests for 10 diseases or conditions. These are the first direct-to-consumer (DTC) tests authorized by the FDA that provide information on an individual’s genetic predisposition to certain medical diseases or conditions, which may help to make decisions about lifestyle choices or to inform discussions with a health care professional.23andMe succeeded where Theranos failed. Why?Two females leading the two companies in different ways in same space,

  18. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:”Just because we are girls and come from a regular public school” “We can do anything”…..(2:15)Empowerment!Adults need to reinforce that all girls learning and creating are special and not regular and have something to contribute.

    1. Camryn

      Thank you so much for the support! I’m a student here at TYWLS and we are all about empowering and encouraging the students here to create new things.

      1. creative group

        Canryn:We see the various reponses in a couple of days timeline. Who was the organizer who coordinated the replys to this blog?

  19. minikittee

    Being a 45 year old woman who has been dancing since she was 3 and coding since she was 9, this brought tears to my eyes. I always felt like I had to choose between my worlds. It is amazing to see groups of females doing this together rather than the random lone ranger going it alone.

    1. Nuran Ghoneim

      Thank you so much! Our teachers always encourage us to brainstorm innovative ways to create new things and get out of our comfort zone.

    2. Marielly

      Thats so cool!

  20. Mark Moran

    You are absolutely spot on about making STEM relevant to their interests. I’ve worked with many groups of students, challenging them to change the world by focusing on fixing their heartbreak. At one large HS school event, a brilliant group of young women was asked by an engineer why their action plan did not incorporate STEM disciplines. One replied, “we love science and math but it’s not relevant to our world, and we don’t know any women role models or mentors in the field.” Within a week, members of the Raytheon Women’s Network were spending every Thursday afternoon with these young women and the last I heard they were planning a statewide STEM mentorship fair.

    1. karen_e

      <fixing their=”” heartbreak=””> DAMN

      1. Mark Moran

        It’s quite powerful – and empowering. As my former partner Angela Maiers says, it “gives genius a reason to show up.” I’m creating an online course – called Choose2Matter – to share the message with everyone.

    2. Lisette T

      Hello Mark, that is really great to hear! Our goal is to bring more girls into the STEM field and encourage others to join!

  21. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Best thing I’ve seen all week. Thank you 🙂

    1. Marzana Mutee

      Hello Kristen,Thank you, I’m glad this stood out to you we worked very hard on it!

  22. Donna Brewington White

    So glad I saw this. For so many reasons.Clicked over when I saw @karen_e:disqus ‘s comment featured at the bottom of a different post and I always like to see what she has to say. That is a clever Disqus feature BTW.This was a nice palate cleansing sorbet after the meaty “Toxic Comments.”

  23. Bryanne Leeming

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Learning STEM and coding can be tough to stick with early on, and I think having something personally relevant to motivate learners is exactly what it takes to keep kids excited. For me, learning to code as a kid I was only interested in it because we were drawing pictures on our computers and I was able to make art with my coding skills. I’m happy to see you highlight a project like this because I think it is exactly what we need to see more of.I’ve been working on a new venture, JumpSmart (, where we are challenging kids to make their own rules for creative play by learning to code physical objects that interact with the world. We are aiming to create new experiences and motivations (similar to this Digital Dance) to get kids excited about STEM. Our games range from recess-style active games, to dance routines, to music, and more, which we think will add new entry points into STEM. Do you have any insights or advice for me as I continue to build my business?