The Workshop will focus on programming with App Inventor along with computer science fundamentals. App Inventor is a visual blocks language that is highly accessible to beginners and fun– you get to build apps for phones and tablets! If you are interested in bringing coding and computer science into your classroom, App Inventor is a great way to learn and a great way to teach.
High School Teachers: The in-person workshop, held June 26-June 30, will introduce the Mobile Computer Science Principles (CSP) curriculum. A 3-week online follow-up course, July 3-July 21will be available and will include support from the instructors. Stipends are available if you complete the 4 weeks and get principal approval for teaching a Mobile CSP course in the 2017-18 academic year.
On March 7, 2017, I was invited to speak to students and teachers at the UNESCO YouthMobile event in Doha Qatar. YouthMobile was part of TumuhaTEC’s Digital Youth Festival at QITCOM 2017, Qatar’s biggest digital Expo. Qatar’s Ministry of Transport and Communication and Ministry of Education created the Youth Festival to introduce students ages 8 and up to innovative digital technologies and provide an interactive space for exploration.
In addition to a series of inspiring Tech Talks center stage (which included 15 year old serial inventor Fatima Al Kaabi) students engaged in hands-on activities throughout the hall including: building Lego robots, testing the capabilities of 3-D printers, collaborating in the digital productions, racing remote control maker cars, and designing mobile apps with MIT App Inventor.
Noticeably present were zones for “girls in tech” to welcome and encourage girls to participate in various digital opportunities both on site and in society. Mentors from the newly formed group, Arab Women in Computing were present to help demonstrate and teach mobile app development with App Inventor. Instruction took place in both English and Arabic. My favorite app that a group of girls created had a Harry Potter theme.
Teachers also had their own opportunity to learn, play and discover new digital tools in the Educator Empowerment zone.
More on FirebaseDB
November 04, 2016
You may have already tried the App Inventor component FirebaseDB or read about it in a blog post earlier this year, but in case you are new to App Inventor, here is the scoop.
Databases are essential features when creating apps because they are used to store information. For example, on a map app, you don’t have to re-enter your home address every time you want to head home because the app stores and retrieves that information for you. Or, when you play a game, you don’t have to stop and think what your previous score was because it displays. Or, if you’re having a party, you don’t have to worry about keeping track of RSVPs in your head because an event app will remember who is coming and who can’t make it.
When creating apps in App Inventor, if you don’t add a database component to your app, no inputted information will be saved and the next time the app starts up, it won’t recall or retrieve any previous data. The TinyDB component allows for persistent data- so each time the app is closed and reopened, the data is available.
Thegood: TinyDB saves data when an app closes and reopens and shares data between multiple screens within the app
Thebad: TinyDB does not share data between multiple users
This means if multiple people use the same event app, they both won’t see the same RSVP list or if they play the same game, they won’t see the same score history. This is where FirebaseDB comes in handy.
FirebaseDB is still an experimental component on App Inventor, but is worth exploring since this cloud database retains and retrieves data when an app closes and reopens and shares consistent, up-to-date data across many users. Everyone who is using the app will see the same information.
Learn to program with FirebaseDB with these app modules: NoteTakerand HowMyFriends.
Learn to create a UI for HowMyFriends.
New App Inventor Curriculum for SF Middle Schools
September 14, 2016
The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is making great strides in rapidly adding computer science courses to the curriculum in public middle schools and high schools, and App Inventor is a vital part of it. SFUSD’s Bryan Twarek and Andrew Rothman have designed an on-line middle school curriculum which combines video and other lessons from appinventor.org, Mobile-CSP.org, appinventor.mit.edu, and a number of other venues, and breaks lessons down into 50 minute classroom chunks. The well-organized site is being used this fall in SF middle schools. Check it out and contact Bryan (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get access to the teacher side of it.
The middle school curriculum is part of SFUSD’s Computer Science for All Students in SF effort. The goal is to make real computer science– with coding and problem solving– part of the curriculum throughout the grade levels, and to help broaden participation in Tech, as this excerpt from their site attests:
By beginning in the earliest grades and with all children, we will normalize a discipline that has been long dominated by a selective group of the population.
SFUSD teachers are also teaching some of the first AP High School Computer Science Principles (CSP) courses on the West Coast, an effort led by SFUSD’s Jennie Lyons.
The Democratize Computing Lab at the University of San Francisco is partnering with the school district in these efforts. Led by my colleague Alark Joshi and I, we provide materials and advice on curriculum development, offer summer training workshops for high school teachers, and facilitate a program whereby USF students in the Democratize Computing Lab assist teachers at schools sites each semester.