Saturday, May 14, 2011

App Development Club: Beginning to program

After getting over the installation problem discussed in the last post (using the laborious process described in that same post), we had a great class last Tuesday after school. 30 girls filled the lab and worked in pairs. Among them, 3 year 10s sat on the floor and worked on their laptops.
Here's what we did:
  1. I demonstrated a "Hello World" program, where the words fall across the screen. This was a tutorial posted on the Ansca videos page.
  2. I explained about Red, Green, Blue and why 255 was a significant number inside a computer (largest unsigned integer that fits in 8 bits).
  3. I left the students to reproduce this themselves.
  4. The students moved on to a tutorial published by Peach Pellen:
    • Display a picture in the middle of the screen
    • Listen to a "touch" event on that picture and make it disappear
It was great to see the girls modify the exercises to suit their own purposes. Some simply swapped Peach's picture with their own. Others used a picture of their favourite singer and made his name drop across the picture.

At the end, I asked them if they had enjoyed the session, and I heard a collective "yes".

My next project is to get them to write a simple game. The words "Tap me" keep appearing at the top of the screen, in a random position, and then move to another place on the screen while fading. When the user "taps" the text successfully, the score increases by one. The game ends when the user has managed 10 successful taps. I intend to break this exercise up into smaller ones with increasing complexity.

I have three people to thank for the learning I have done so far:
  • Carlos Icaza, from Ansca Mobile, who corresponds with me about all kinds of issues;
  • Peach Pellen, of the Techority website, for her excellent; and
  • Jayant Varma, of OZApps, who gives me personalised tutorials via Skype
The reason I am promoting this club is to hook up with other schools that may be teaching App Development, especially using Corona SDK. So, if you're doing this, please get in touch with me.

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