This past Friday was the last day of Youth APPLab internships, and the last day of the first full year of Youth APPLab. The day was filled with XBox 360 (what better way to celebrate), bragging about completed apps, and anticipation for what is to come in year two!
As I look back on this first year, I realize how far we've come and how proud I am of our students.
When we began, 75% of our students didn't know what progamming meant and never heard of 'coding.' But today, about 10 months later, we have a list of 20+ apps waiting to be published on the Android Market (4 are already published)!
Apps already published and accessible using the link above are:
1. The App Inventor Tutorial app by Nate Evans, Jr., a rising 11th grader,
2. Third Grade Math app by Ali Hawkins, a rising 3rd grader,
3. The Brain Warm Up app by Faith Slaughter, a rising 8th grader, and
4. The Color Tap Game by Hamza Hawkins, a rising 12th grader.
Students have explored and learned ALICE, Scratch, GIMP, and App Inventor - and some have even begun to learn the Java programming language. We've gone over presentation skills, the software development life cycle, game design, and pseudo-code - an idea each student initially didn't see the need for but soon realized its importance.
We've been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine, on Black Enterprise TV, the Michael Eric Dyson Radio Show (marker 22:30), and have even hung out with the Chair of the FCC, Julius Genachowski - at his request. Two students, Kweku Sumbry and Hamza Hawkins, attended the 2nd Annual DML (Digital Media & Learning Conference) with me and successfully completed an app challenge to create an app (the Digital Business card) before the conference ended - which they finished in 30 min. We returned from the conference and immediately participated in an elementary school STEM Expo the following day.
Two of our students even started their own app development company - SNIKWAH Interactive!
Did I mention how proud I am? I'm sure you can see why.
After months of excitement, frustration, confusion, and more excitement, students designed, programmed, tested, debugged, and showcased their apps on Demo Day - June 25, 2011 to a room of family, friends, and supporters. It was awesome!
Internships followed as we improved some apps and created 3 more for the DC community. These apps will be published on the market soon. Students had a great time visiting various places and making app presentations throughout the summer!
So, what's next for Youth APPLab? Well, students and parents are demanding another year. We hope to start classes again this fall and are looking for more funders, supporters, and friends.
Special thanks go out to our awesome students, their parents, Howard University Middle School of Math and Science, Howard University Computer Science Department, our 2 Howard student volunteers (Matthew and Imani, the photographer) and Marco Jacobs - my right hand man, for making this year run as smoothly as it did.
A huge congratulations go out to the four rising college freshman - all African-American males (Ke'von, Emmanual, Anthony, and Roi) who have decided to either minor or major in Computer Science after participating in Youth APPLab. And a special acknowledgement to all the other boys and girls who are now also interested but just have a few more years of high school left.
I look forward to meeting new students this upcoming year and can't wait to partner with the new Center for Mobile Learning at MIT (the new host of App Inventor in 2012).
A huge THANK YOU to the MacArthur Foundation, HASTAC, and everyone else involved in making this (idea) program what it has become today!
I can't wait to see what happens next! ...and for some reason, I don't think I'm the only one.
Thanks for reading!
Filled with excitement,