Sixth Grader Builds iPhone Apps and Sparks Learning in School
Thomas Suarez is a 6th grade student at a middle school in the South Bay of Los Angeles who has been fascinated by computers and technology since before kindergarten. With the introduction of software development tools, he started building applications for the iPhone and iPad.
"A lot of kids these days want to play games, but now they want to make them. And it's difficult because not many kids know where to go to find out how to make a program," said Suarez on October 22 at the TEDxManhattanBeach Transforming Learning Conference. "For soccer you can go to a soccer team, for violin you could get lessons for violin. But what if you want to make an app? Their parents might have done a lot of those things when they were young, but not many parents have written apps."
Suarez started a teacher-sponsored club for fellow students at school, where he shares his knowledge of programming. Support and encouragement from family, friends, teachers, and even Apple store staff has helped motivate him. Club members are getting feedback from teachers on which apps would be valuable on iPads for classroom use. Once these apps are designed and built, they will be free to local schools and all revenue will go to local education programs.
Suarez believes that students are a valuable new technology resource to teachers, and should be empowered to offer assistance in developing the technology curriculum and also assist in delivering the lessons. How do you support and ignite cooperative learning among your students?