Mobile App Lab,
's after-school app-designing class, has now expanded to allow high-school students from any school in the area to participate.
The program began in 2010 at the Shadyside school and focuses on teaching programming for mobile devices. "Many students have them and, if they don't, they see them in action," says program head David Nassar. "It's a real and tangible use of computer science today. All businesses are trying to create an app for their business. Even poets are creating poetry apps. Computer science is pervasive and I like to show the students that."
Students, who come from as close as Pittsburgh Obama or as far away as Quaker Valley and Mars, are expected to bring their knowledge back to their own schools. "We really want to bring computer science education to the forefront of people's minds in Pittsburgh and the larger area," says Nassar. Students who have already taken the course are acting as mentors, helping to teach current kids.
Students design lots of games, of course, but also some simple productivity apps, such as unit converters, and also work on painting and drawing programs. They come in with little to no programming knowledge and design apps they can complete in seven weeks.
"The students have come up with some pretty wild ideas," Nassar says. "It's exciting to see their creativity take them in directions I wouldn't have thought myself." They don't become full-fledged programmers after this short class, he notes, but it certainly piques their interest. "Students who hadn't even realized computer science might be something they would be excited about – they realize it."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: David Nassar, Winchester Thurston