In August, two-dozen middle school students went into the Museum of History and Industry with a desire to learn more about smartphone app development. They left with a little something extra: two-dozen free laptops.
MOHAI and Capitol One held the one-week C1 Coders Camp for middle school students from Aug. 22-26. The students came from Washington and Aki Kurose middle schools.
Instructors borrowed from Capitol One’s engineering team worked with the students over the week to teach them about development workflow and visual programming with MIT’s browser-based App Inventor program.
“This entire week, I’ve been totally jealous of that camp,” said Dave Unger, MOHAI’s director of territorial services. “It seems every time I’ve peeked my head in, [the campers] were having fun and getting something done.”
On Aug. 26, a panel of judges determined the best apps to come out of the camp. Then they gave a surprise announcement that drew gasps from the room.
Everyone would be allowed to keep the Chromebooks they had been using all week.
Judges selected the most creative, most user friendly and best overall apps, as well as a single runner up for best overall app.
The best overall app was a choice simulator called “Stop Annoying Me,” developed by Team Teamwork. Developers Isaiah Banks and Cameron Dancer designed “Stop Annoying Me” to present users with scenarios such as bullying and offer solutions from the serious -- such as walking away or talking it out -- to the silly -- such as taking a photo of the bully and scribbling on it with the app’s built-in paint program.
“Most user friendly app” went to Herbert Williams and Mikiyas Yared of The Winnerz for “Mole.” The objective of the game was to guide the eponymous avatar toward pieces of food. But more food makes the mole travel faster and faster, challenging players to maintain control near high ledges in the game’s levels.
“These young men were spitting out ideas left and right,” mentor KJ Moon said. “They worked hard on this app. They slowly added more and more features as the week went on.”
“Most creative app” went to “Swag Money’s Therapy Session” by Nia Dozier and Steven Huynh. The app was designed to relieve stress with music (it connects to Spotify or Pandora), advice, quotes of the day and “massages” courtesy of the vibrate setting on a user’s phone.
The campers also gave the app a social media feature.
“You can talk to people who have the same problems, or who have solutions,” Dozier said.
The C1 Coders Camp was sponsored by the Capital One Future Edge initiative, founded to bridge the education gap in science, technology, engineering and math — a field of education commonly abbreviated as STEM.
Campers weren’t the only ones who benefitted, according to mentors. Several camp mentors said watching the campers work throughout the week bolstered their own sense of design and programming principles.
“I think they reinforced, for me, what a social exercise coding is,” camp mentor Garrick Kriegh said.