Recently, MIT App Inventor featured a story about Pauline Lake, a Trinty College student in Connecticut who developed and runs an app invention class for high school students. Curious, I gave Pauline a call and we talked about her idea and how the class has run.
App Inventor is a set of tools and resources to write software applications (apps) for the Android phone. Google has given/shared the Android App Inventor with MIT so it is freely available for all to use. EdWeek has also profiled a couple of programs where young people learn to write apps.
But Pauline’s story struck me. Here was one young college student who wanted to do something to help other young people learn important skills. Pauline told me that she is pursuing two majors, education studies and computer science, and that she is the only one at her college doing that. She went on to talk about how she has shaped her course and the resources over several trials in local schools, learning what works best to engage high school students. She’s even taught students as young as 4th to 6th grade how to program apps. Although she’s won awards for her work (and met Michelle Obama at the White House), she worries that the programs won’t continue. However, she is working to spread the idea locally and with presentations at STEM conferences in her area.
But most of all what impressed me was her pride in her students and the changes that a simple programming class had brought to their lives. When you talk to Pauline, it is not difficult to see that creating engaging learning experiences in computer science for young people really matters.