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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Students from UCI, Rancho Middle School and Tiger Woods center create apps

Event: For weeks, UC Irvine computer science students have helped eager after-school teams at Irvine’s Rancho Middle School and the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim design smartphone applications to teach even younger children science, technology and math. Now an expert panel will test the creations and award prizes, including for best overall product. This promises to be a high-energy event, with 12- and 13-year-olds proudly showing their apps to younger children and the judges.
Date: Thursday, Nov. 8
Time: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: Tiger Woods Learning Center, 1 Tiger Woods Way, Anaheim (off Gilbert Street)
Supplemental Information: This event is not open to the public. Media planning to attend should contact Cathy Lawhon in advance or, on the day of event, Janet Wilson at 213-880-8948 (cell) or janethw@uci.edu or Rachel Rees at 949-466-8938 (cell). Free parking is available on-site or at Savanna High School, across Gilbert Street.

Students at UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences began all-night “AppJams” in 2011; they’re believed to be the nation’s first such tournaments. The aim is simple: Each team designs a fully functional mobile application in one week. Impressed, the Samueli Foundation and the Kay Family Foundation asked the students to mentor area middle schoolers and help them design educational apps. Along the way, the college students learn teaching skills, and the seventh- and eighth-graders learn geometry, computer code, animation and a host of other skills.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this. These are 12-year-olds getting the chance to design apps. The kids love it!” said Rancho Middle School principal Scott Bowman. “The nice part is this comes out of UCI. We have a world-renowned university in our backyard. To have student teachers who really know how to do this has a huge impact. The kids see them and think, ‘I can go there, too.’”

“We are always working to provide young people with new and authentic learning opportunities,” said Katherine Bihr, vice president and executive director of the Tiger Woods Learning Center. “The AppJam class lets our students learn valuable skills in programming while having fun and creating tools that countless children can use to improve in school.”

The outreach program is funded by the Samueli Foundation and the Kay Family Foundation.

kid app workshop
Steve Zylius / University Communications
UC Irvine undergraduate Naren Sathiya, center, mentors Rancho Middle School students in an after-school computer application contest. Teams from Irvine and Anaheim are competing to design the best science and math apps for younger children.

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Cathy Lawhon
University Communications

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