UMKC Students Lead Google Fiber Summer App Camp


Photo Credit: Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications.



Mentors help teen developers create their own apps

Surrounded by high-energy chaos, Stephanie Gutierrez and Perla Baca are perfectly in sync.

They seamlessly take turns talking in excited tones, explaining each step of their new mobile device app.  They’re even dressed alike – in black Google Fiber Summer App Camp T-shirts and bright green skirts. The hue is a nod to the main character in “Yoshi’s World,” the app that Gutierrez and Baca co-created.

“We made our game easy and we made it exciting,” Gutierrez says.

She gestures to the smartphone screen, where the loveable green dinosaur scrolls from side to side, trying to catch apples as they fall from the sky. As the player advances, the game moves faster. Occasional questions mix education into the game. Like any good app game, the concept is simple, but mastery is not.

The two 17 year olds spent a week developing “Yoshi’s World” during the Google Fiber Summer App Camp. It was the second of two camp sessions, both of which drew 25 Kansas City area high school students.

The students demonstrated their apps for a mix of judges, parents and other audience members at Google Fiber Space, but the app development and creation took place at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Computing and Engineering, where UMKC students taught the campers how to develop apps – the software applications designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices.

At the start of camp, the whole process seemed daunting. For most of the campers, this was their first app-building experience.

“We imagined it would be really, really hard, but we did our best and it was easier than we thought it would be,” Baca said.

The work paid off. On demo day, pairs of once-intimidated students confidently presented the newest additions to the app world.

Some of the apps, like Cannon Target by Kennedy Her and Daneil Lee, were fun. Others, like Money Organizer by Theron Sanders and Jonathan Her, were more practical. Math and Reading by Brandi Beavers and Talia Lindsey made learning fun.

“Education is a powerful thing. Even though it’s the summertime, we still need to work on reading and math. This is a simple but powerful way to make an impact,” Lindsey said.

As camp came to a close, students collected awards, said goodbye to new friends, and left with a sense of accomplishment. Some even left with a desire to do more.

Oscar Campos was one of many students who left with plans to improve the app that he created with teammate Luis Garcia. Call it Summer App Camp 2.0.

To download the students’ apps, go here.

The Summer App camps were sponsored by Google Fiber, KC Power Source, KC STEM Alliance and UMKC’s SCE.

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