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Cracking the code: Empowering students to solve problems and make their own apps
Monday, March 30, 2015
Editors note: This post comes from Michelle Sun, Founder of First Code Academy
A digital divide can exist even in places like Hong Kong, which has a household broadband penetration rate of over 80%. Ethnic divisions can quite often leave minorities, many of them children of immigrants, disconnected from the digital growth around them.
To begin to address this, our Hong Kong-based
First Code Academy
US Consulate General HK
a series of five “AppJamming” workshops for 32 ethnic minority students from
CMA Choi Cheung Kok Secondary School
. The students learned to create applications using App Inventor, a blocks-based programming tool originally developed at Google Education.
While the five classes can’t be considered enough to make someone a professional coder, it encourages people to pursue a career path they might never have considered. Satara Ilyas, a Form 5 student, thinks of herself an “arts person.” Nevertheless, “We use so many apps everyday and it would be really interesting to actually program them ourselves,” she said before the class. The workshops sparked her curiosity and five sessions of AppJamming “went by too quickly.”
During the course, students also learned to patiently identify, debug and solve problems one-by-one. Building a functional app to solve real-world problems was a major theme of the workshops. In the third session, students programmed a calculator; for their final project, they brainstormed ideas to solve the biggest problems in their lives.
Anas, a soft-spoken Form 3 student, came to the workshop with a specific goal, wanting “to build an app to help my classmates remember their homework assignments.” For his final project, he ended up building a sophisticated calculator with his teammate, Suleman, but he continues to explore ways to accomplish his homework assignment app outside the workshops.
These workshops are designed to help students begin to understand the possibilities of using technology in everyday applications. By partnering with Google and the US Consulate General Hong Kong for these workshops, we hope to empower students with basic computer programming skills to help them think creatively about addressing social issues with technology.
Posted by Michelle Sun, Founder of First Code Academy
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