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Middle school students create apps

Students participate in a Harry Potter-themed coding activity. [FHSD photo]

To close the summer school camp schedule, middle school-aged students from the Francis Howell School District explored coding and app development at App Camp. The students completed a variety of tasks throughout the camp to learn how to code. By the end of the week, they had the opportunity to create their own app that could be published on the Google Play Store.

Students participated in a variety of challenges to practice coding. In one activity, the students used Harry Potter wands to solve coding challenges. In another, students used the color spectrum to make music.

“We want the students to understand that they don’t always have to be consumers of technology. They can be creators,” Carmen Kenney-Hill, camp leader, said. Some students designed a variety of entertainment games. Others developed applications that could solve problems, such as a product that would assist individuals with hearing loss.

Kyle Barker, a seventh grader at Barnwell Middle, hopes to work in app development one day.

“This camp is teaching me how challenging it can be in real life when you are designing an application for more than one person,” Barker said. “It’s showing me what’s expected for it.” Barker also appreciated the opportunity to create a product that could be published online.

“I’m working on a game right now that is going to be like Space Invaders,” Barker said. “You have a rocket and you try to shoot some alien ships down.”

Desiree Smith, an eighth grader at Bryan Middle, discovered a love for game design in sixth grade when she drew her own 3D character. Smith used App Camp to learn more about becoming a concept artist one day.

“The industry for games and apps, in general, is growing, so we need kids who are prepared for jobs in that area,” Smith said.

Not only did the camp provide students with the opportunity to create a finished product, but it also gave them a chance to perform at their own pace.

“Unlike the other camps we do, it is very customized to the students,” said Kenney-Hill. “They can work as quickly or slowly as they want. They can do challenges if they want or they can just focus on their coding. They have so many options here that don’t exist during the regular school year.”

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