App Inventor Boot Camp in Western Mass

Aug 26, 2013 joanie's Blog

App Inventor Boot Camp was a summer professional development experience for teachers to learn MIT App Inventor, a free visual blocks-based programming system for Android mobile devices that can be used to teach computer science concepts through the creative design of apps for smartphones and mobile devices. In this hands-on workshop, educators built their own apps and explored how to integrate app programming and computer science principles into their curricula in computing, technology, science, and math classes. The workshop included time to develop curriculum exercises and share them with colleagues, as well as begin to build a learning community of educators using App Inventor. Starting Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 8:30 AM until Friday, August 16, 2013 at 1:00 PM, teachers gathered at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center for an App Inventor Boot Camp: a 4 day workshop geared on teaching teachers about App Inventor and computational thinking. Mark Sherman, PhD candidate at UMass Lowell and part of the MIT App Inventor Training Corps led the workshop with assistance from myself and James DeFilippo and Rajia Aziz: both undergraduates at UMass Lowell in the Engaging Computing Group. A photo of the instructors (minus Rajia who had to leave early) of the Bootcamp. About 15 educators participated in the Boot Camp, including teachers and professors from middle schools, high schools, and even colleges. Participants had a mix of backgrounds, from very strong programming experience to none at all. But by the end of the bootcamp, everyone was able to build apps and understand basic computing concepts by using App Inventor. A photo of all of the teachers and instructors from the last day. As part of a project to get participants using App Inventor and integrating the tool and computing principles into different content areas, participants sorted themselves into groups of 2-3 and made an app for an infusion activity. Each app needed to serve an educational purpose that combined App Inventor and the computational thinking it affords with another subject area. Participants also wrote worksheets that complemented the apps. Some of the apps were: a College Tour of Western Mass colleges, a Physics app about gravity on Earth and other planets, a growing a plant app that teaches a bit about plants, a Spanish teaching app, an app that teaches and tests reading a ruler, and an app that teaches about computer/technology costs. All the apps, with source code and descriptions can be found in the App Inventor Gallery. Two of the infusion apps that participants in the Boot Camp created Overall, it was a great experience, learning and teaching App Inventor. Thank you so much to MGHPCC for hosting and for CAITE and ECEP for sponsoring. And thanks again to MIT's App Inventor Group and UMass Lowell's Engaging Computing Group for providing the instructors.