Weekly Feature

2018-01-11 / Front Page

Students design, build apps


Academy students in the West Seneca Central School District are receiving hands-on experience developing mobile app technology through the Lenovo Scholar Network.

(See editorial on page four)

As part of the National Academy Foundation’s MIT App Inventor program, students program and build an application for Android devices. There are 25 students involved in the inaugural year of the program.

According to Academy Director Colleen Christmann, students are learning high tech skills to compete in a global economy.

“It is designed to provide high school students with an intensive application development program to enable the next generation of developers as well as entrepreneurs,” she said. “The Lenovo Scholar Network encourages greater interest among high school students in STEM-related subjects.”

STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and math.

Christmann and other academy teachers presented student work and an overview of the program during Monday night’s School Board meeting.

This year, students have created an app with a barking dog, a digital speaking program called “Talk To Me,” and a Magic Eight Ball app.

“It’s a lot more challenging than you think,” Christmann said, noting that just getting an app to say a few words can take all day.

She said the students are on track to compete in a national app-building competition. Previous winners have developed “CPR On Demand,” which demonstrates the lifesaving process in a step-by-step manner, and “Where’s Our Bus?” which tracks buses in real time, telling students when to head out the door.

Christmann said a school showcase is in the works for sometime in March, with submissions to the national contest shortly after. Eventually, student apps will go to market.

Teachers have received five training courses to run the program and by the end of the year will have received 10 total training webinars, along with tutorials available for their use.

Currently, the program is being run as part of an after school DECA program. It was open to students in the district’s five academies, programs that allow students to explore various career fields through elective course offerings and internships.

With the overwhelming success of this year’s class, instructors said they want to continue education on digital programming and to start earlier in the coming year, with staff taking time to develop apps of their own.

They would also like to expand the program to include more students and integrate the program into the Academy of Digital Media.

The program was possible in part thanks to the district providing 15 tablets to each of the East and West sides of the district, Christmann said.

Lenovo is a $43 billion global Fortune 500 company and a leader in providing innovative consumer, commercial and enterprise technology, Christmann said.

email: jwaters@beenews.com

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