The Cushman School had never offered anything like this before, and the students never met a real “insider” to the computer/software industry, so I spent the entire class just fielding questions….
“How does SIRI work?” – I went on to explain how it was built on the same technology that I studied back at Carnegie-Mellon University in the AI lab when we were researching voice recognition.
“Can we build a game?” – We could, but that wasn’t the purpose of the class. Games are a different beast, and a game really has to be unique to be worthwhile building it. The App Store doesn’t need another Angry Birds.
“What’s in the phone?” – I drew analogies between the phone and a computer, and explained how the iPhone is more powerful than the computers that we used to send a man to the moon. They were amazed that computer (when I was in high school) took up an entire room, and was less powerful and stored less than their mobile device.
“What can we put in the app?” – Anything, as long as we all think it will improve the app. I explained the development process – we’ll write down every idea, determine if it belongs in the app, and then start to build it.
“How much will we sell it for?”. We’ll make it free, so every kids can play with it.
“Can it work on Samsung?” – Not just yet. We’ll do it for the iPhone, iPad and iPod, and if it becomes popular, we’ll build it for the other phones.
“Can I try it out yet?” – No, we have not built it yet.
“How long will it take to build?” – A couple of months.
“Can it have icons or avatars?” – Yes. Let’s add that to the list of ideas.
And on it went. I got to know the kids, and they got to know my style of conducting a class. Each time, one of the teachers would stop by to watch what we were doing, and ask some questions as well.
This blog describes how 5th-8th grade students helped build the free iPhone/iPad/iPod app WishToList; info at WishToList.com