So much is happening as we approach the last few months of Youth APPLab.
Coming Events (Black Enterprise TV & FCC Chairman Visits Youth APPLab)
We will be profiled by Black Enterprise TV and we will have a visit from the Chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, all next week. The Black Enterprise TV profile comes as an extension to the article in the February 2011 issue (p. 45-46). We are so very excited and students are gearing up to show what they've learned so far. The FCC will visit in relation to an upcoming special announcement coming in the next few weeks and would love to hear more about Youth APPLab and what students are learning.
NOTE: The tips in the article have been extended here.
Coming soon - Student Apps!
All this while we are all trying to get our apps finished. Two are almost done and more are coming. Students are busy working on tutorials and app designs. They have so many, I am not sure which apps will be completed first. Nonetheless, it's extremely exciting!
A Bit of Competition
Students are now divided into four teams and are working to accumulate the highest score to win prizes (perhaps an android tablet, but we welcome your suggestions) at the end of the program. They get points for blogging, answering questions, and completing assignments - and of course, for completing quality apps.
After the coming excitement wanes, we will have a series of college prep, financial management, and patent and trademark workshops - all to get them prepared for a future in app development. I'm sure this is all a huge amount of activity coming at them, but in the end, I hope it makes for a great experience.
No More Connection Challenges
I'm happy to say that our internet challenges have come to an end - knock on wood - and Tuesday's class was filled with engaged students trying to get to the next level.
The Youngest (known) Programmer in DC!
Tuesday's class was awesome for several reasons. However, one huge highlight was Ali, our youngest programmer (was 7 when he started and is now 8)! He started coming to class with his older brothers (Hamza and Muhammad) a little over a month ago. I wanted to engage him during his first day, so I gave him a laptop and told him to keep up, if he could. Emmanual, a senior in the class, took Ali under his wing that day and before we knew it, Ali had a few Scratch animations going. Needless to say, Ali kept coming and continued to attempt in-class and homework assignments. One day I asked Ali if he wanted to make apps and he responded with a very simple and assertive answer - "All I need is a phone."
Ali's Biggest Challenge Yet
From that moment on, I realized that Ali was a mainstay in the class. It's been a little over a month and Ali has been blogging, has already given a Scratch presentation in front of the class, gone through several App Inventor tutorials, and has recently accomplished his biggest challenge yet. Last week (Thursday), I told Ali that if he managed to complete an app from one of the tutorials and have it run on one of his brother's phones, that he could get his own phone (given his parents' approval). Well, Tuesday, Ali came up to me with a huge smile on his face and his brother's phone in hand - ready to demo his first app. It was great. Ali had accomplished his challenge and after Mr. Marco and I put his app through rigorous testing, Ali was given his phone to the sound of applause from everyone in class. It was awesome!
First and Longest (Known) After-School Computer Science Program in DC
But I would be remiss if I didn't celebrate all students (20 in middle and high school) who have been consistently attending Youth APPLab classes since October 2010. So far, we've journeyed down almost every avenue of technology (not just app development). All involved should be hugely celebrated for their interests, efforts, persistence, and hard work over the past 5 months - the first and longest concentrated computer science/software development after-school effort in DC (and perhaps the nation) for African-American students. I am truly proud of all of them!
So, yes, keep your eye out for some amazing apps within the next few months.
It's getting really busy at Youth APPLab!