KINGSBURG – Do you have fitness goals, financial goals, or life skills goals that you haven’t met yet? Students at Kingsburg High’s computer science class just may have an app for that.
Joshua Woods is a new computer science teacher at Kingsburg High School and his students just made history by hosting the school’s first ever Mobile App Expo April 11 at the school’s library.
“The students were tasked with identifying a problem and then creating an app as a solution. Projects were pretty wide ranging,” Woods said. “We had some fitness apps, travel apps and we even had an app on cryptocurrency.”
Students first learned about programming then used the MIT App Inventor, a cloud-based tool, to work in teams and design their apps.
“They got to identify a problem or an issue and tackle it and interview people who’d be potential users of the app, do research and then come up with their design to help people with that problem. They each have a poster they made for their projects as well.”
Before hosting the Expo, a panel of campus administrators listened to their presentations and gave students feedback on the usability of their apps, functionality, the design and their presentation.
Woods said many of the seniors already had plans to major in computer science and different engineering programs in college next year, so this class was offered just in time to give them more experience.
There were just over 50 students taking part in this first Expo and visitors strolled from one presentation to the next to hear about each team’s work.
Among parents was Brent Yokota who works for Agrian, a Clovis-based tech company that develops ag-related software. Some of his team is in Pennsylvania while others are in Nepal.
“I lead a team of software developers. We work across time zones and communicate online and work on projects together just like these kids are here.”
Yokota’s son is Connor Yokota and since he has a parent in the industry, he has the advantage of seeing the work environment there. For the rest of the students though, Brent Yokota said he sees the KHS computer science classes as a realistic introduction to a tech career.
“When you actually have a device in your hand and you’re publishing onto the device, it feels like a real app. These kids are super-excited about the things they’re working on. It gives them a chance to build on that.
Here are just some of the apps the students developed:
- Lean Machine: Developed by Arnold Camarillo, Antonio Castellanos Cruz and Juan Martinez.
“Getting healthy is a major problem so we thought we could address people who are not challenging themselves every day, but want to get fit,” Martinez said. “You begin with a set of challenges and once those are completed, points are awarded. You can use those to make in-app purchases. So the more challenges you complete, the more rewards you get.”
- PSave App: Developed by Brandon Howard, Brandon Loomis and Andrew MacNeilly.
This app allows users to create and have access to the myriad of passwords they need to log in to their various accounts while keeping those passwords protected from hackers.
“It’s designed to make it simple for you to use, but very hard for hackers to get your passwords,” Howard said. “What we have working is the password generator. We’ve cross-referenced many different sources to figure out the best way of protecting your passwords and make it hard for somebody to get into them. We have this feature where the app allows you to access your saves, what it was for, the password itself and date and time. We’re still developing a tester where it’ll tell you if your current passwords are very weak or very strong. Then it gives comments as to how to fix it and make your password better.”
- CryptoPoint: Developed by Karley Hager and Adam Garza.
This app explains what cryptocurrency is and how to invest in it.
“It’s a beginner’s guide on how cryptocurrency works and how to invest in it so people can use it for their financial benefit. Users can understand how to buy cryptocurrency, what wallets they need and how to set up those wallets and start investing,” Garza said. “[Users] can feel more secure and have more control over their finances.”
Hager said investors make peer-to-peer transactions and thus have “total and complete control over your wealth.”
Since not many people are aware of how to invest this way, the duo said their app is a good starting point.
“We’re just providing the basic knowledge. Your wallet is what stores your cryptocurrency. First you go to an exchange and get dollars to Bitcoin or Litecoin. Once you buy that cryptocurrency, you send it to your wallet or you store it securely on your computer,” Hager said.
- Dis-Comfort: Developed by Isaac Delgadillo, Arnold Camrillo and Matthew Thiessen.
Their app helps users get out of their comfort zone by helping them “build confidence, conquer fears and live life better,” Delgadillo said.
“I thought of the idea and did it for myself personally because I don’t do a lot of socializing. As I was building it, it actually helped me build my confidence.”
Users are motivated with inspirational quotes and then presented with scenarios to go beyond their usual routine. Videos challenge users to overcome different fears.
“The challenges are the main thing in our app. The top three are for socializing, conversation starters and challenges you get to do,” Delgadillo said. “Once you finish, you click it and go on from there. The steps are to build up your confidence. When you want to challenge yourself, there’s a map for places around town where people normally go – benches, parks or beaches. Here’s one, ‘do one thing that scares you every single day.’”
Overall, the students agreed the hands-on aspect of the course and ability to determine their own subjects for the apps made them feel a higher sense of ownership of the project.
“I like how this was an independent thing so our whole project was our idea,” Hager said. “We were in charge of keeping up to date with everything we needed to get done and making [our app] look nice for the judges. It showed us the process of building an app and putting it out there.”
Afterwards, Woods said those who toured the Expo were impressed with the variety of projects and enthusiasm each team had in demonstrating their work.
“It’s great for the students to share what they’ve been working on. They got to choose their subject and work on it, so they take a lot of ownership in the projects. You can see it in the enthusiasm they have when they’re talking about their projects.”
Next year, the Kingsburg High will offer an advanced placement computer course, Woods said, so interested students may ask their counselors about enrolling if they are interested.
“I hope from this work-based learning experience, that they really get an authentic feel of what it’s like to work as a software developer.”