New club teaches Shaler students how to create mobile apps
Shaler Area High School teachers are pushing students to look past simply using apps on their phones to creating mobile apps.
This year, the high school faculty created the a mobile app club, which introduces students to Processing, a programming language based on Java to create mobile apps. The success of the club led administrators to the creation of the mobile applications technology class, which is new for the 2014-15 school year.
“It pushes the kids to a different level of creativity; they are actually producing a product,” said Bryan O'Black, director of curriculum and technology. “It gives our students an opportunity to focus on the innovation then actually learning the process to do that to develop a final product.”
Currently, senior Josh Megahan and sophomores David Berdik and Matt Johnson are working in a group to develop a 3D entertainment app.
“We use technology, but we don't think of it as something we can create,” Megahan said. “But, it's like any other art form. Anyone can do it.”
Megahan took a course in the computer language Visual Basic, and the aspiring computer programer wanted to learn Java but couldn't fit it into his class schedule.
“That's why I'm here — to get a little Java experience,” Megahan said. “It's given me a start in a whole new language.”
Shaler Area's mobile app club started in the fall with a series of after-school field trips to Mars Area High School.
Rob Case, a Mars Area High School teacher, helped to form a mobile app club at Mars during the 2012-13 school year through a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, Winchester Thurston School and South Fayette High School staff.
The success of the club led to the creation of two new programming courses at the high school.
During the Shaler Area students' visits to Mars Area, the Mars Area club members gave tutorials in the basics of coding and Processing to help Shaler Area students form their own club.
But Paul Sorby, one of the club's faculty sponsors, said it was the Shaler Area students who caused the club to succeed at the high school.
“Their enthusiasm for it is what got it out of Mars and back to Shaler,” Sorby said. “We know we have these types of kids here with these abilities, and to have the class at Shaler gives them that opportunity to come in and experiment with what they're already good at.”
Lisa Klugh, a club faculty sponsor, said the club and next year's introductory-level mobile app class will acquaint students with the process of creating an app. Students are asked to come up with an idea, spend time developing it and create a storyboard before they even start programming.
“We're trying to get students involved in something they've never seen before or options that they wouldn't have elsewhere,” Klugh said.
Both the club and the new class fit into the high school administration's focus on ways to incorporate additional opportunities for science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM, into the curriculum.
The high school administration recently created a STEAM advisory committee of 15 teachers, high school administrators and community leaders to focus on enriching and building the STEAM disciplines at the high school.
“One of our goals in the district this year and (for the past) several years is to create an innovative learning environment where they move from conceptual framework to application, and I think this is what we're looking to happen (with this club and the creation of the class),” O'Black said.
“They're actually going out there imagining ideas and have the opportunity to put them into place. They'll eventually create products they can go out there and market and consumers can buy.”
Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- $120M health facility opens in Pine
- For 50 years, Hampton woman has worked at St. Ursula
- Northern Tier tales to get patrons in Halloween spirit
- Hampton considering new rules for ATVs
- Pilot program uses apps to personalize learning for Shaler Area second-graders
- Northland to hold ‘Zombie Homecoming’
- Pine girl earns top marks at regional equestrian event
- Pine-Richland music, band teacher bids farewell after 22 years
- Proposal asks Shaler to mark roads to make drivers aware bicyclists frequent route
- Policy keeps public from using Shaler Area track during school hours
- Run 4 Their Lives race in Hampton to raise awareness about human trafficking