New App Inventor Curriculum for SF Middle Schools

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-10-14-52-amThe San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is making great strides in rapidly adding computer science courses to the curriculum in public middle schools and high schools, and App Inventor is a vital part of it.  SFUSD’s Bryan Twarek and Andrew Rothman have designed an on-line middle school curriculum which combines video and other lessons from appinventor.org, Mobile-CSP.org, appinventor.mit.edu, and a number of other venues, and breaks lessons down into 50 minute classroom chunks. The well-organized site is being used this fall in SF middle schools. Check it out and contact Bryan (twarekb@sfusd.edu) to get access to the teacher side of it.

The middle school curriculum is part of SFUSD’s Computer Science for All Students in SF effort. The goal is to make real computer science– with coding and problem solving– part of the curriculum throughout the grade levels, and to help broaden participation in Tech, as this excerpt from their site attests:

By beginning in the earliest grades and with all children, we will normalize a discipline that has been long dominated by a selective group of the population.

SFUSD teachers are also teaching some of the first AP High School Computer Science Principles (CSP) courses on the West Coast, an effort led by SFUSD’s Jennie Lyons.

The Democratize Computing Lab at the University of San Francisco is  partnering with the school district in these efforts. Led by my colleague Alark Joshi and I, we provide materials and advice on curriculum development, offer summer training workshops for high school  teachers, and facilitate a program whereby USF students in the Democratize Computing Lab assist teachers at schools sites each semester.

Dave Wolber

Super-Teacher Kelly Powers Teaching High schoolers!

Want to see a successful STEM program in action? Check out this video of Kelly Powers, the Mass. STEM teacher of the year, teaching students to be creative, solve problems, and build their thinking skills, all through building apps with App Inventor. Congratulations Kelly!

 

$200,000 Keck Grant for AppInventor.org

keckDavid Wolber and the University of San Francisco received a $200,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to launch the Democratize Computing Lab at USF.  The Lab’s mission is to  break down the programmer divide and radically broaden and diversify the pool of software creators.

The Lab’s strategy is based on App Inventor, a visual language from MIT that allows beginners to learn by programming their phone or tablet. The language has a low barrier to entry. Instead of being bogged down for months in the syntax of a traditional language, beginners can build useful applications within days and early on experience the joy of computing and real-world problem-solving.

AppInventor.org On-Line Course

AppInventor.org: Learn mobile programming on-line

Wolber has been involved with App Inventor since its inception at Google in 2009, and co-authored a book with App Inventor creator Hal Abelson and two of the Google engineers on the App Inventor team (including Mills College professor Ellen Spertus). His site appinventor.org, which provides video lessons and course materials for students and teachers, recently received its millionth hit.

The Lab is involved with a number of App Inventor education projects for providing beginners with an entry-way into the world of programming. Wolber and his students are completing and refining the “course-in-a-box” materials for students and teachers on the appinventor.org site. They’re also working with MIT and UMass-Lowell on the App Inventor Community Gallery, a site where students, teachers, and developers share apps and learn from each other.

An open-source app studio for peer-to-peer learning

App Inventor Gallery: app studio for peer-to-peer learning

Wolber will continue to direct the Lab in the fall while on Sabbatical at MIT, where he’ll be serving as a visiting faculty member and working with Hal Abelson and the App Inventor team.

Jeff Gray is Transforming Education in Alabama

University of Alabama professor Jeff Gray is working to develop new computer science AP curriculum for Alabama high school students based on App Inventor and mobile programming. Check out this video from ABC news:Screen shot 2012-12-01 at 11.45.05 AM

National Science Foundation Grant for Teaching App Inventor

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $565,836 grant in support of mobile programming education with App Inventor. Its
a TUES Grant, which stands for Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

The project involves Wellesley College, MIT, Trinity, U. Mass, Lowell, and the University of San Francisco (my school). We’ll be building on-line, Khan-academy-like tools for App Inventor, with the goal of teaching computational thinking to beginners, especially non-CS-students. Many thanks to Franklyn Turbak of Wellesley, who led the proposal process, and Hal Abelson of MIT who leads the App Inventor project. Here are all the Project leads:

Hal Abelson, MIT

Lyn Turbak, Wellesley

Ralph Morelli, Trinity

Fred Martin, UMass-Lowell

David Wolber, USF

 

BusinessWeek.com on University of San Francisco and App Inventor

Andrea and Kelly building an app

USF students Andrea Conway and Kelly Lazzara are featured in this BusinessWeek.com video report on App Inventor and our course at USF.

Mr. President: App inventing and what our schools can be

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AMSA tacher Padmaja Bandaru with her students at the MIT App Inventor summit

They take a computer science course each and every semester. They build mobile apps. They learn using a visual language, App Inventor, that allows them to create their first app within an hour and sophisticated ones within days. They become so excited about programming phones that they join the Technovation after-school program and spend their afternoons learning more programming and entrepreneurship skills. One app– an educational one about Mitosis and Meiosis, wins the regional competition and a trip to California. Who are these kids? They’re the students from the Advanced Science and Math Academy (ASMA), a public charter school in Marlborough Massachusetts, and, President Obama, they are exactly what America needs!

Two AMSA students discussing their app with MIT professor Hal Abelson

I met these incredible students and learned about their fabulous school at the MIT App Inventor Summit. The students were invited to MIT along with their teachers, Kelly Powers and Padmaja Bandaru, two women who should be given millions of stimulus dollars for their exemplary work.

The students demonstrated their projects, talked tech with  App Inventor project lead Hal Abelson and the other conference attendees, and with great aplomb illustrated how App Inventor can help change the face of education.

AMSA students with Padmaja Bandaru,  Hal Abelson, MIT super student Logan Mercer and yours truly, David Wolber from USF

You hear everywhere how we’re not educating our kids for life in the 21st century. What should the President do? Call Kelly Powers and Padmaja Bandaru at the AMSA school!