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July 11, 2020


Wolf Cukier, 17, who discovered a planet as a summer intern at NASA speaks to the Westchester County Board of Legislators; Board Chairman Ben Boykin is in the background. Photo Credit: Photo by Jaevon Boxhill
Westchester libraries now offer a free coding class for middle school children through a program, AT&T Code Heroes. AT&T New York President Amy Kramer and NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins are shown at a program launch event Jan. 17. Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of AT&T
Bronxville High School students Olivia O’Keefe, Emma Estes and Thomas Dragoni have their artwork on display at the prestigious OSilas Gallery through Jan. 25. Photo Credit: CourtCourtesy of Bronxville Union Free School District

Around Westchester Schools: Free Coding, NASA Planet Discovery, Art Trio On Exhibit

Whether your child grows up to be the next Bill Gates he/she should learn coding. The job skillset is in high demand. Coding also helps boost the learning of problem-solving, creativity and communication. And did you know it also helps kids learn cyber safe strategies?

AT&T and The Digital Arts Experience have partnered with the  Westchester Library System to bring a first-of-its-kind of free computer coding educational program called AT&T’s Code Heroes, to all 38 Westchester County libraries.

This unique program will reach more than 400 students between with a focus on engaging underserved youth -- made possible by a $70,000 contribution from AT&T. Students entering sixth grade through eighth grade in a school in Westchester County are eligible to take the course.

The class teaches coding basics from local mentors. Children will learn how computer science is used in the real world and how technology can be used for good to create solutions to issues impacting youth in the region, namely cyberbullying and good digital citizenship.

To ensure inclusion and diversity, the program is completely free to all middle school students.

No previous coding experience is required and participants do not need a computer to participate. All technologies and education resources will be provided.  AT&T's Coding Heroes will culminate with the Westchester Cyberbullying Summit Nov. 14 at The Westchester County Center. 

Registration is at and local libraries.

Planet "Wolftopia" Student Highlighted In Westchester

In a special ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 21, the Westchester County Board of Legislators honored Scarsdale High School senior Wolf Cukier, a young scientist who discovered a previously unknown planet while working as a NASA summer intern.

Through his own initiative, Cukier earned a summer internship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, securing a mentor while participating in the Science Research Program elective course.

During his second summer internship at Goddard, Cukier's job was to examine data about the brightness of certain stars. He was looking at data from a system 1,300 light-years away. 

He thought he might be looking at two stars circling each other. But Cukier realized that explanation didn't make sense. In fact, it turns out, what he was looking at was a planet that NASA didn't know existed until Cukier found it. It's the first planet anyone at NASA has ever discovered that has two suns.

NASA announced the discovery and featured it in a panel discussion at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu earlier this month. 

Cukier is the co-author of a paper on the discovery, alongside scientists from Goddard, San Diego State University, the University of Chicago and other institutions.

Board Chairman Ben Boykin (D-White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison), presented Cukier with proclamations both from the Board and from County Executive George Latimer, hailing Cukier for his achievement.

The Board declared Wednesday, Jan 22, Wolf Cukier Day in Westchester County. The planet is currently known as TOI 1338b: But Wolf and his family hope that the planet might ultimately be named "Wolftopia."

Bronxville High Students Art Draws Favor At Prestigious Gallery

Three Bronxville High School students, Thomas Dragoni, Emma Estes and Olivia O’Keefe, have their artwork on display at the prestigious OSilas Gallery at Concordia College as part of the gallery’s StART 2020: 14th Annual Regional High Schools Student Art Exhibition through Saturday, Jan. 25.

The show includes work by students from 30 public and private schools across Fairfield, Orange, Rockland, and Westchester Counties, and the Bronx. The art was critiqued by judges at an opening reception on Jan. 15. The works range from paintings to ceramics to photography.

Dragoni, a junior, displayed his acrylic painting of a shark on canvas, “The Man in the Gray Suit.” He completed it for an assignment relating to vanitas, or the 17th-century concept that uses symbols to show the transience of life and the inevitability of change.

“He used various color mixing and glazing techniques to complete his painting of the shark and was able to emphasize the scars and marks on the shark’s skin in incredible detail,” art teacher Courtney Alan said.

Estes, a senior, submitted a series of photographs from her “Human Action” portfolio. Her works are titled “What About Animals?", “What About Sunrise?” and “What About the Seas?” In her artist statement, she stated that the “series of photos is designed to be noticed, foster dialogue and prompt activism.”

“Her triptych comments on the results of the deliberate disregard humans have for our environmental crisis by exploring themes of animal hunting, rising ocean levels, and ozone layer depletion,” Alan said. “Emma is involved in every aspect of her creative process, which makes her photographs more impressive. She does all of the makeup, styling, lighting, location scouting and props herself.”

O’Keefe, a junior, displayed her digital painting “Adette,” which took more than 20 hours to complete using the Procreate app, on an iPad. In her artist statement, O’Keefe described her painting as a “realization of emotions and dreams, a surreal reflection of isolation and imagination.”

“Each different part of her work has enormous amounts of layers,” Alan said. “This was a painting in response to a field trip to the Guggenheim where we viewed ‘Artistic License,’ and students were asked to complete a work that would fit within the exhibition’s six themes curated by six contemporary artists.”

OSilas Gallery is located on the campus of Concordia College in Bronxville, in the Donald A. Krenz Academic Center on the second level of Scheele Memorial Library.