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Computer Science Educators embrace App Inventor at SIGCSE

Ahh, Denver in March: Sunny and 60 on Thursday, blizzard on Saturday... but we had a blast!

I am happy to report that the 44th annual meeting of the Special Interest Group in Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) was a wonderful success, and that App Inventor was well represented by educators from all over the country.

Over 1100 attendees met for three days of sharing research, collaborating, catching up, and learning from one another. While this was only my second time attending this conference, I felt as if I was visiting my extended family. It's invigorating to be surrounded by so many people who are working toward the same goals and who care about the same issues: increasing access to quality computer science education for all people. This year's theme was "The Changing Face of Computing" and throughout the conference keynote speakers talked about issues surrounding diversity in computing. I was especially moved by the closing speech given by Jane Margolis. She told us about her days as a telephone repair technician (complete with a photo of her in a harness hanging from a pole!) and she connected that experience with what is happening today in technical fields. Women and minorities continue to be underrepresented in STEM, most egregiously in computing. Dr. Margolis issued a call for all of us to rise to the challenge of changing this paradigm, emphasizing the relationship of this work to a larger educational crisis and issues we face as world citizens.

It was gratifying to see the breadth of papers and workshops focused on App Inventor (listed below) at this year's SIGCSE Conference. You can read the papers by clicking the titles which link directly to the PDFs on the conference website.


Studio-Based Learning and App Inventor for Android in an Introductory CS Course for Non-Majors
Khuloud Ahmad, Paul Gestwicki, Ball State University

Using a Discourse-Intensive Pedagogy and Androidʼs App Inventor for Introducing Computational Concepts to Middle School Students
Shuchi Grover, Roy Pea, Stanford University

Using App Inventor in K-12 Summer Camp
Amber Wagner, Jeff Gray, Jonathan Corley, University of Alabama
David Wolber (Co-author) University of San Francisco

Going Mobile with App Inventor for Android – A One-Week Computing Workshop for K-12 Teachers
Phillip Potter, Zebulun Barnett, Jiangjiang Liu, Ethan Hasson, Jiangjiang Liu, Lamar University


Teaching the CS Principles Curriculum with App Inventor
Ralph Morelli, Trinity College
David Wolber, University of San Francisco
Shaileen Pokress, MIT Media Lab
Fred Martin, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Franklyn Turbak, Wellesley College
The CS Principles Project is an NSF-funded initiative to develop a breadth-first advanced placement (AP) course in computer science. App Inventor is a visual, blocks-based programming language that makes sophisticated computing concepts accessible to a broad range of students. This hands-on workshop, aimed at high school and undergraduate teachers, will introduce participants to lessons, homework exercises, project assignments, and assessment materials (quizzes, grading rubrics) that can be used in an App Inventor-based CS0 course. Participants will develop simple Android apps, using devices provided by the workshop, and will use them in the context of lessons and assignments that fit within the CS Principles framework. A laptop is required.

How to Plan and Run Computing Summer Camps for 4th-12th Grade Students
Barbara Ericson, Georgia Institute of Technology
Christopher Michaud, Marist School
Nannette Napier, Georgia Gwinnett College
Krishnendu Roy, Valdosta State University
This workshop will provide details on how to run non-residential computing summer camps for 4th – 12th grade students. Georgia Tech has been offering camps since 2004. These camps are financially self- sustaining and effective. Items used include: Scratch, Alice, LEGO robots (WeDo, NXT, and Tetrix), and App Inventor. Georgia Tech has also helped start 11 other computing camps in Georgia. The workshop will include forms, a timeline, sample agendas, sample flyers, budget plans, a planning checklist, suggested projects, surveys, pre and post tests, evaluation results, and more. Intended audience: high school teachers and undergraduate faculty that are interested in creating computing summer camps for 4th – 12th grade students. Laptop recommended