Guest Blog Post: Check out the great #techgirls apps from @clayfieldcoll #brisbane #STEM

Guest Blog Post from Teacher Andrew Russell

Clayfield College – Year 10 Information Technology

“Tech girls are superheroes”

Computing occupations are predicted to make up two thirds of all new jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) related fields (Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2015; elaborated by Code.Org, 2015) and Computer Science education has risen to prominence to become a national priority (Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, 2015). Computer education, with a focus on Computer Science, has become a core subject in the Australian Curriculum and the focus of national innovation initiatives. Large scale participation by girls, however, remains unlikely given their low level of engagement with computing in recent decades.

According to the report published in 2015 titled “Female participation in school computing: reversing the trend” there are four specific strategies identified that are most likely to be effective approaches to addressing low participation of females in K-12Computer Science in the current Australian context:

1. Engaging girls in the Digital Technologies Curriculum;

2. Parental preconceptions and influences;

3. Role Models and Mentors; and

4. Digital Technologies activities for girls.

Clayfield College saw the “Tech girls are superheroes” challenge as an opportunity to engage girls and attract them into Technology careers, while teaching them computational, system and design thinking skills. Year 10 Technology students are designing and developing prototype apps. The brief given to the students is to develop an APP that will help the community is some way.  Students are learning to solve problems in creative ways and use technology to help people. They are using either a JQuery mobile framework or the “App Inventor IDE”.  

What has made this unit different and tangible to the students is how it enables them to interact with successful women in IT in industry as mentors, as well as students from other schools. Students are Skyping with their mentors on a regular basis and arranging online meetings or meeting in person at school. In 2016, we have some amazing mentors including: Grace Linsdell – Display Campaign Manager at Xpand (at Google) in Sydney; Monique Alvis (an old girl of Clayfield College) – Senior Consultant (Design and Development) for IBM in Melbourne; Gen George – Founder of not one, but two successful companies – OneShift / Skilled in Sydney; Magda Cortez – Senior Product Manager at eBay / Gumtree in Sydney; Kim Allom – Associate Producer for Defiant Development in the video games industry in Brisbane; Mathilde Desselle -Program coordinator for Marketing and Outreach at the University of Queensland; Michelle Apps – Project Officer at QUT in Brisbane; Veronica Chew – Founder of W Common in Singapore.

The students are able to showcase their Apps at the QUT Cube, enabling them to present their ideas to the public. The unit brings to the students many transferable skills, such as working and problem solving in teams, entrepreneurial skills that include market research, client profiling, product need surveys, cost analysis and project management using an app called “Trello”.  

Examples of student work

 The main steps in this unit consist of the following:

  1. Career Exploration – Students get to know their mentor by asking questions about their career, using Skype. Theythen seek initial ideas from their mentorand arrange regular Skype meeting times with them.
  2. Ideation of concept – Students brainstorm and gather ideas on community issues and problems that can potentially be solved by the use of an APP “Lean Startup”. “A day in the Life” scenario is applied here for feedback from the target group.
  3. Students gather feasibility measures and feedback on their App idea from a target group. They design a survey to collect feedback on the app popularity and potential Market Size.
  4. Students brainstorm using “Data flowchart” and include basic “wireframes”. This gives a good graphical picture of the number of screens and functionality on each, including data flow.
  5. User Interface and Product Design – Paper Prototyping Product Description. Students use a combination of Adobe Illustrator and “Invision”. The following example is the wireframe development by the “First Response” group (see below)
  6. Students are made very aware that feedback on paper prototype from peers/potential users is fundamental to the success of their project. Mentors and teachers provide critical feedback at this point in time.
  7. Students use a “problem based learning” methodology to work through tutorials and teacher tuition to develop aprototype solution within the appropriate framework, such as Jquery Mobile or App Inventor. Students also develop a database connection with Google Fusion Tables that allowed them to store user data of their App. Students are able to control the typical features of a smart phone including Geolocation, Accelerometer, Gyroscope Database, Bar code scanner, messaging, touch features including swipe, pinch, etc… Many examples and tutorials are available for App inventor and Jquery mobile, in our case using Dreamweaver and Phonegap.
  8. Students then revise a competitive analysis and pricing based on publishing costs in the App stores and potential advertising revenues.
  9. Finally, the branding and promotion, including a 100-word App description, must be developed. iThis includes a pitch video and demo video of the App.

Students have the opportunity to submit this into the Techgirls are superheroes challenge Australia wide. 

Head of Technology 

Andrew Russell

NOTE from the TGM: Thank you to our superhero teacher Andrew Russell from us here at the Tech Girls Movement for your ongoing support of our program and your many teams. We love having you in the program!