Category Archives: Computers

Youth APPLab Makes History This Past Summer with XO APPLab!

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As the summer comes to a close, we reflect on some of the amazing accomplishments our students have achieved in our innovative subset of Youth APPLab!

For six weeks this past summer (June – August, 2012), a group of 8 teenage students formed an amazing team and became Uplift, Inc.’s inaugural class of XO APPLab!

XO APPLab set out to create an app (activity) for the One Laptop Per Child‘s XO laptop.  Students and instructors worked together tirelessly during evening hours, Monday – Friday throughout the duration of the project.  Programming, testing, and debugging occurred until the very last day = Demo Day! where students not only demonstrated Word It!, a vocabulary app for the XO – but a version for Android devices as well.

XO APPLab began with no one knowing the Python programming language – and some had never programmed at all before our first day.  So, we broke into two teams: one to develop for the XO and the other to get introduced to programming Apps for Android Devices using App Inventor!  Instructors did nothing but facilitate while students brainstormed, narrowed nine (9) original ideas down to one (1), designed functionality, and separated the large effort into smaller and easier programmable parts – all while learning Python and App Inventor for the first time.

The result?

History!  XO APPLab students became the 1st all African-American development team under the age of 20 to develop an app for the XO laptop! 

We are sincerely proud of their effort, hard work, creativity, and dedication to the project!  You guys rock! …and so does our instructors!

We even documented several class days along with the final Demo Day on our Facebook page.  Please head on over and check them out at your earliest convenience!

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XO APPLab was graciously funded by the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation in Washington, DC.  XO laptops were on loan from Sugar Lab DC.  We are truly grateful for their investment in these future software developers.

A published paper about the project is due out soon, so please stay tuned for more.

Of course 6 weeks was not enough time to learn these programming languages, design an app, and build it in it’s entirety – so there are a few more modifications needed before we can publish.  However, students did demo (a large portion of) each version on their intended devices.  Check out the Demo Day pics for more details!

Questions? Requests for more information?  Please feel free to contact us when you can.

Our Fall 2012 line-up of classes starts in just a week or so.  We look forward to more amazing projects from our students.

Please stay tuned for more….

Uplift, Inc.

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,


Youth APPLab is proudly powered by Uplift, Inc.


So many announcements…

…that I’m not going to blog about. But seriously, today Ms.  Leshell gave quite a few announcements about the lab. She also stressed how little we were getting done and how much it worried her. Most of us have had some part in us being behind, including myself. After the announcements we picked up on the tutorials we were supposed to do a while back. I thought I had finished one but it turns out that I may have skipped a very important step in the tutorial, programming the app to appear. So close right?


Hey you all i have started on my app, it is going well. I do not know what to call this app but it should be cool. I think it will appeal to those who like clothes and shoes. But not just any clothers and shoes, i’m talking about h&m, or ralph lauren polo, or levis jeans, or zara jackets. These are pretty much all of the styles that us young washingtonians like shop for. So watch out for my new app.

Today’s class

I feel like I accomplished alot today in class. After hearing Yusra’s explanation of broadcasts, the Mock App program seemed much easier, and after “painting” most of the screens things just fell into place. After seeing that App Inventor was so close to Scratch, it got me very optimistic about programming.I feel like I said this before but, once you understand what everything does and how to find it, programming doesn’t seem so difficult.