Last week I was able to see five student groups present their app prototypes during their Introduction to Computer Science class at Minnetonka High School. It was fun to see the creative ideas they came up with as solutions to problems and needs for other students--including apps to deliver food to apps, apps to learn content like trivia and math facts, and an app to help new students navigate around the building. Intro to Computer Science is a semester long course offered at our high school either in person or online in the summer. The face to face class meets in The Loft, a beautifully newly remodeled space just opened up this school year.
Instructor Nick Bahr explained that students had two weeks for this app development unit. They use Code.org’s App Lab for the curriculum lessons and program to develop their prototypes. Students chose to work individually or in groups and began by selecting the need or problem for which to create an app. They did market research looking at existing products and brainstormed ideas for a possible app, working out prototypes first on paper that were shown to others to gather feedback. Then they built their app prototype, testing it out and debugging it along the way. Students also then solicited feedback from peers and/or individuals who would be potential users of their creation. At the end, they created a presentation about this whole process and gave this presentation to their classmates on the day I was there. They also reflected on their work with one another and answered questions from classmates.
One example of this project and presentation is embedded above. Calista, Ella, and Angelina did an excellent job of describing each step of their process in their presentation. You can view their math facts app for elementary students called Math Popper, complete with 45 different screens and an interactive game at the end. The Trivia app created was called Turbo Falso. The two apps to order food from the school cafe (called The Cove) are B.A.B.A. and Cove Delivery. Finally, Freshy Maps is the app to help newcomers at the school find their way around the building.
On the presentation slides for the B.A.B.A. app (Bread Acquisition Banana Associates), the students wrote the following comments in the notes section of the slides which give you more insight not only into their thought process but also how much learning took place for this project:
It’s pretty clear that there is no such system to deliver any food between classrooms, so the thought just inspired us to cook up such an idea, like an indoor delivery service. We discovered that it isn’t quite common to do something like it, and it would be a somewhat unique idea
This is our paper prototype for our app. It starts with a screen that you enter in your school lunch pin and a room number. Then you are taken to the menu where you can select certain items and order them. This takes down your balance and if your balance goes below 0 after ordering something you are taken to the insufficient funds screen where you can add more to your balance or sign out. Otherwise if your balance is not below 0 you will be taken to the order success screen after ordering which would send us/the cove an email saying what has been ordered and you can continue on to the delivery time screen where it tells you if you delivery has been sent an how much time it will take for your delivery to arrive.
All of us had to come with a design and order, then came together making our own individual screens and combining them together, making somewhat of a quilt of different art styles We had to make some adaptations to our screens and how they are ordered from our paper prototype, such as having to remove the email and time to delivery screen due to complications with coding them. In addition, we decided to make the insufficient funds and add to balance screens separate in order to allow for people without a negative balance to add funds to their account from the menu screen by clicking the Add to Funds button. Also we added to the menu screen by making it so that if you clicked the checkbox it shows an image of the selected food item.
When we showed our app to others, people thought it would be helpful. One person said that he gets hungry during the day, but doesn’t want to leave class or get a tardy from trying to get to the cove and our app would fit that need perfectly. Even though he liked the concepts, he said that we should change the color and font because they were ugly.
A theme to sum this all up, is to give actual access to the school accounts, and the power to change the money of the students
What was hard? Getting the work done on time was a bit challenging. Keeping all group members on topic and focusing on producing the best work and making a functioning app that serves its intended purpose.
What we did to get around it? We, as a group used strong communication with each other to relay ideas and what works to each other. We also had good group chemistry so we could pull together to overcome anything one of us may have struggled with.
What Is the next step? The next step is to (with permission granted) expand the Baba app to have more that just our id numbers, so having everyone in the school. All this would require is to add more lines of code for specific numbers, or a range of them.
More about this class
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