Category Archives: Boys

Youth APPLab (SYEP2013) Students Launch the Water Drops App & Website

This summer’s Youth APPLab  students release The Water Drops App for Android and the Water Drops website!

Check out and download the Water Drops App now!

Both the website and the app share the benefits of drinking water, while the app helps you keep track of the amount of water (cups) you drink with a daily and running total counters

The Water Drops App

Some of our students were sponsored by DC’s One City Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP2013).

DML 2012: We came, We saw, We Presented! …and had a great deal of fun!

Youth APPLab is an awesome project!  The students, the apps they create, reactions from supporters, and its future potential never cease to amaze me.  This was also case at this year’s Digital Media & Learning (DML Conference) in San Francisco, CA earlier this month.

This year, we wanted to take as many students as possible.  But the trip to San Fran proved to be expensive.  This led us to pursue various fundraising ideas.  Our most successful campaign was on IndieGogo, where we raised $1,500 and a great deal of support.  The video included in that campaign tells the story of our trip to last year’s DML Conference.  A huge thanks to all those who donated!

As a result of careful budgeting, I was accompanied by 3 Youth APPLab students (Shakira – who won a 2012 NCWIT Runner-Up Aspirations in Computing Award, Hamza, and Muhammad), 1 parent (Ms. Graves – Shakira’s mom), our Research Associate (Jennifer), and the Youth APPLab co-instructor (Marco).

Although there were 4 adults on the trip, the focus was entirely on the 3 students. Accepted to participate in delivering content for two workshops, Shakira, Hamza, and Muhammad did all the talking.

First, they shared their Youth APPLab experience to-date and specifically talked about making our ‘Go Green DC: Community Garden Edition’ app (to appear on Google Play by this coming summer). This app helps DC residents learn about and locate community gardens within each quadrant of the city.  This workshop/panel was in conjunction with with Lissa Soep, Asha Richardson and Asiya Wadud of Youth Radio Mobile Action Lab about their app called Forage City, which is an adaptation of Asiya’s Forage Oakland, which helps folks in an Oakland neighborhood share excess fruit harvested from their backyards.  Check out the Ed Week’s blog entry about this panel.

Next, with David Wolber, Shakira, Hamza, and Muhammad helped conference workshop attendees learn App Inventor.  Guided by David, many participants easily built their first app with App Inventor.

We had great conversations with DML 4 competition winners as well as with a host of representatives from programs all over the country who were interested supporters of our work.  Student reception was so great, that someone even tweeted a suggestion that Youth APPLab students make next year’s conference app – a suggestion we accept, if this ends up true consideration!

But all work and no play makes for a bad trip to San Francisco, so we all ventured out to various tourists attractions as well, like Alcatraz, Youth Radio, and the Exploratorium!  A huge thanks to the Exploratorium Employee who gave us VIP invitations!

This blog entry features sub-entries about our trip from Jennifer, Hamza, and Muhammad below!  These beginning words are simply for introductions!

It was a great trip!  But don’t take my word for it, read blog entries from Jennifer, Hamza, and Muhammad below:

Jennifer Burrell, Research Associate – Uplift, Inc.
My first visit to the city of San Francisco was assorted, ranging from viewing presentations at the DML Conference, to exploring the pier, to touring the prison Alcatraz, to visiting Youth Radio, to investigating “science” at the Exploratorium! As a new member of the Youth APPLab (Uplift) team, I was there to observe, learn, and explore.

Scholarship

The most profound scholarly moment for me occurred when I attended the workshop, “What students learn: Connecting classroom games and measures of student learning” by Institute of Play and Quest to Learn (Manhattan, NY).   As frequently endorsed in discussions with team-members at my own institution of learning (Howard University), the presenters promote goal-based learning, complex problem-solving, integrated need to solve, and assessment in the classroom environment.  They shared their experiences and success in using hands-on and narrative learning, which, from my own classroom observations, just feels and looks “right.” However, at question and answer time, the realities of real-world obstacles in implementing similar learning strategies in public schools surfaced—that is, the obstacle of assessment! The question is: how can a public school cultivate the type of learning possible at Institute of Play, while meeting core standards and testing requirements?

For advocates of positive change in public schools—and the mass of children we cannot leave behind—the question of standards and testing, has become somewhat of a bottom line and fundamental question.  Sitting in the audience I was left to figure out this paradox.  There is no doubt that, as my advisor, Dr. A. Wade Boykin would say, it is time that we shift from supposed assessments “of” learning to assessments “for” learning.  While myself and other audience members are certainly on board and agree that, certainly, there must be greater overlap between the core curriculum, what is actually taught, what is learned, and what is assessed – there is much work ahead in figuring out “how.”

Happiest Moment
One of my happiest moments while attending the DML Conference was a simple fleeting moment watching business cards exchange hands between one Youth APPLab student and a conference participant during the APP Inventor workshop. Beyond the surface, this gesture represented the accomplishing of one major goal of Youth APPLab student attendance at DML–that is the building of professional relationships and collaborations.  Further, watching Youth APPLab students share their travels thus far on their pathways towards becoming successful entrepreneurs, computer scientists, and engineers was truly special, particularly because they represent a story that often goes untold.  I was proud to witness Youth APPLab students shatter the figurative boxes that individuals in society oftentimes try to fit them into based on age and/or phenotypic characteristics.  These young people not only attended, but also presented their work as a part of Uplift, Inc. and they were well received. The experience leaves me confident that, in the future, there will be even more representation of young budding scientists, African-American scientists, and other groups that are underrepresented in STEM at (and helping to facilitate) the DML Conference.

Hamza Hawkins, Youth APPLab Student – Uplift, Inc.

My trip to the DML conference this year was awesome. The highlight of last year’s trip was building a digital business card app along with Kweku in under 30 minutes. This year, several other students and I spoke on a panel along with others, we assisted with a hands on workshop, and we explored the busy area of San Francisco.

Youth AppLab had a big presence at the conference through the first day. Shakira, Muhammad and I were included on a panel with others about helping communities with technology. After our presentation, the whole panel, along with Ms.Leshell, participated in a Q&A session. During the session, a participant suggested that we make an app for the DML conference. We left and prepared for the second workshop after we answered some questions. During the second workshop, we assisted with the hands on project for app inventor. At the end of the workshop, we socialized with the participants and gained a few contacts.

After a busy first day, we had the rest of the of the week to explore. Shakira, Muhammad, and I walked around the various stores that were there. Fortunately, our hotel was literally around the corner from every store. On Friday, we visited Alcatraz. To get to the island, we had to catch a ferry. This was the first time I’ve ever been in a boat. Throughout the trip, I’ve learned interesting things. Later on that day, we visited the Youth Radio headquarters, which, as the name suggests, is a radio show hosted by youth in Oakland. We were given a tour of the building and took a quick peek Into their kitchen, which is where some of the youth cooked meals for everybody in the building. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay long enough to watch the actual show that was planned for that night. On Saturday, we visited the Exploratorium which is a museum based on science and technology. At first I thought it was like a traditional museum where you would look at pictures and objects, and learn some history. Well I was wrong. You still learned history, but the pictures and objects were engaging and entertaining experiences.

Throughout my whole experience with Youth AppLab, I gained a sense of how important science, technology, engineering, and math is in our lives. This experience really motivates me to pursue the field of software engineering whether it be in a company such as Google and Microsoft, or an entrepreneurial option through the business my brother and I created, Snikwah Interactive.

Muhammad Hawkins, Youth APPLab Student – Uplift, Inc.

My trip to the 2012 DML Conference was an awesome and unforgettable experience. After the 12 hour flight to San-Francisco we were all tired and hungry, so the whole Youth APPLab group we were traveling with ate dinner, and went to our hotel room to go over the presentation we were to present the next day.

The conference we attended was huge and a lot of important people were there, such as one lady who was on the team that created App Inventor. I was on a panel along with two other Youth APPLab students, Hamza and Shakira, and we presented with others about helping communities with technology. The presentation went great, and then the audience began to ask questions. It was during the Q&A when someone suggested that we create an app for the DML conference. The second workshop we attended, our instructor Ms. Leshell was giving a presentation about App Inventor along with someone else who teaches App Inventor in the Bay-Area. During that workshop we had to walk around and help people create a simple app with App Inventor.

After the workshops we were supposed to attend, we were free the rest of the week. We visited a lot of different stores around the area our hotel was in. On Friday we visited Alcatraz, which is a federal prison that they shut down due to high maintenance costs. To get to Alcatraz we had to take a ferry because it was on a an island. It was an interesting experience. Later that day we went to Youth Radio, which is a radio station for youth in the Oakland area. We took a tour around the building, and it is definitely a nice place. On Saturday we visited a place called Exploratorium, which is a science and technology museum. At this museum they had some of the coolest exhibits that I’ve ever seen in any museum I’ve visited.

Being apart of Youth APPLab is what gave me an opportunity to go to the DML conference, and has given me the skills and knowledge to create Android apps. It’s because of Youth APPLab that I want to become a software developer, and why my brother and I came up with an Android App development company of our own.

First Full Year of Youth APPLab Now Complete! The result? A HUGE SUCCESS!!!

Youth APPLab!

This past Friday was the last day of Youth APPLab internships, and the last day of the first full year of Youth APPLab.  The day was filled with XBox 360 (what better way to celebrate), bragging about completed apps, and anticipation for what is to come in year two!

As I look back on this first year, I realize how far we’ve come and how proud I am of our students.

When we began, 75% of our students didn’t know what progamming meant and never heard of ‘coding.’  But today, about 10 months later, we have a list of 20+ apps waiting to be published on the Android Market (4 are already published)!

Apps already published and accessible using the link above are:

1. The App Inventor Tutorial app by Nate Evans, Jr., a rising 11th grader,
2. Third Grade Math app by Ali Hawkins, a rising 3rd grader,
3. The Brain Warm Up app by Faith Slaughter, a rising 8th grader, and
4. The Color Tap Game by Hamza Hawkins, a rising 12th grader.

Students have explored and learned ALICE, Scratch, GIMP, and App Inventor – and some have even begun to learn the Java programming language.  We’ve gone over presentation skills, the software development life cycle, game design, and pseudo-code – an idea each student initially didn’t see the need for but soon realized its importance.

We’ve been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine, on Black Enterprise TV, the Michael Eric Dyson Radio Show (marker 22:30), and have evenhung out with the Chair of the FCC, Julius Genachowski – at his request.  Two students, Kweku Sumbry and Hamza Hawkins, attended the 2nd Annual DML (Digital Media & Learning Conference) with me and successfully completed an app challenge to create an app (the Digital Business card) before the conference ended – which they finished in 30 min.  We returned from the conference and immediately participated in an elementary school STEM Expo the following day.

Two of our students even started their own app development company –SNIKWAH Interactive!

Did I mention how proud I am?  I’m sure you can see why.

After months of excitement, frustration, confusion, and more excitement, students designed, programmed, tested, debugged, and showcased their apps on Demo Day – June 25, 2011 to a room of family, friends, and supporters.  It was awesome!

Internships followed as we improved some apps and created 3 more for the DC community.  These apps will be published on the market soon.  Students had a great time visiting various places and making app presentations throughout the summer!

So, what’s next for Youth APPLab? Well, students and parents are demanding another year.  We hope to start classes again this fall and are looking for more funders, supporters, and friends.

In the meantime, please stay tuned by following us on twitter andFacebook!

Special thanks go out to our awesome students, their parents, Howard University Middle School of Math and Science, Howard University Computer Science Department, our 2 Howard student volunteers (Matthew and Imani, the photographer) and Marco Jacobs – my right hand man, for making this year run as smoothly as it did.

A huge congratulations go out to the four rising college freshman – all African-American males (Ke’von, Emmanual, Anthony, and Roi) who have decided to either minor or major in Computer Science after participating in Youth APPLab.  And a special acknowledgement to all the other boys and girls who are now also interested but just have a few more years of high school left.

I look forward to meeting new students this upcoming year and can’t wait to partner with the new Center for Mobile Learning at MIT (the new host of App Inventor in 2012).

A huge THANK YOU to the MacArthur Foundation, HASTAC, and everyone else involved in making this (idea) program what it has become today!

I can’t wait to see what happens next!  …and for some reason, I don’t think I’m the only one.

Thanks for reading!

Filled with excitement,

-Leshell

Youth APPLab is proudly powered by Uplift, Inc.

 

Last class for Youth APPLab

The last class for Youth APPLab, Thursday June 23 was probably my most memorable because it was the last class and after it ends nothing will be the same until the summer program starts. This experience on everybody was life changing and I wish I had more time to work with my classmates and better my understanding of the programs we used and didn’t get to. I know most people would agree that this class was and still is fun but there are some days that we have to be serious but even then it was still fun or it still will be fun because of the people involved in the program and how we go about it. Ms. Leshell and Mr. Marco are awesome teachers and they know a lot in the App field and to be able to learn  from them is a privilege. Though some people had some doubts on Mr. Marco’s occupation (they thought he was a spy) it was still fun to ponder on that and I still think people believe that. The volunteers helped as well in providing me with more knowledge as to what to do. All my classmates also helped though we had our moments where we put each other down or envied each other but it was in a crazy, funny way that always gave off a good vibe. We all got along there was no “beef” or issues between people there and we all had our own perspectives of the class, but mine is (special). I always had a technical problem on a regular basis, Ms. Leshell can disagree with that most times but it reigned true recently when it showed off its “special ways”. For instance the sound cut off for a good hour and I asked Afia ( she usually helped me with concepts I didn’t completely get in App Inventor if Ms. Leshell was helping somebody else out. ) if she could fix it and she tried but to no avail. Then I called Ms. Leshell when she had finished helping the person she had worked with while Afia helped me and that didn’t work either, until I closed out everything and opened it all back up again that the sound started to work but  I had tried multiple times before it really began to work. Also with my computer one of the speakers blew on my headphones I used to use, (so being the “special” computer it is ), the speaker that blew on my headphones, on that side, the computer started to vocalize whatever I was listening to at that moment. So strangely my computer plays music from the left speaker when a headphone jack is in and on headphones it has to play on the right otherwise people will hear whatever I am hearing at the moment.

P.S. I will probably add to this just not at the moment so if anybody asks if this is all I wrote, say “not for long”.

P.S.S. DUSCES!!! PEACE!!! ABOVE THE INFLUENCE!!! YELLOW 🙂 (SMILEY FACE)!!! LOL!!! ROFL!!! HAGS!!! LLLCFFPP!!!!!!!!! (laugh out loud, rolling on [the] floor laughing, have a great summer, and LAUGHING LIKE LAZY CRAZY FEELING FAT PROCRASTINATING PEOPLE!!!)

Change of idea

Some of you may know about my app, ForgetMeNots.  Well after an incomplete series of technical difficulties, I’ve decided that ForgetMeNots would be too much work for my given time frame. Instead I’m working on a much easier and quicker app that I’m calling the AI Tutorial. It’s going to be an app that teaches users how to use App Inventor. It’s going to include my previous app, teaching users how to use multiple screens, as a section. The overall skeleton of the app is complete. Now I just need to throw in some pictures and dress it up a bit and it should be ready for the market. That’s it so far but I may change some stuff around a bit.