ENGLEWOOD — "Guess that Lyric" and basketball trivia are among the apps developed by Englewood teens in the last 10 weeks through a program at Teamwork Englewood.
Tuesday night the Englewood Codes group presented their creations to parents at Teamwork Englewood, 815 W. 63rd St. The apps, created by students from schools like Lindblom, Johnson College Prep and Team Englewood Academy, were the product of a 10-week program housed at Teamwork Englewood.
Scott L. Steward, co-founder of Project Tech Teens, worked with 25 students in eighth through 12th grade who had no prior technological experience. The coding was relatively simple, but more important, it introduced students to an education or career in computer science and sharpened their thinking skills, Steward said.
Exposure to tech education is essential for these students, Steward said.
“Everything is literally becoming all about technology,” he said. “We’re here now, and if we’re not a part of the manufacturing of the technology, we will be left behind. These young people need to know more than just how to use technology.”
Besides the technology skills, the program (funded by Get IN Chicago) also provides mentoring, tutoring and a safe place after school, said Perry Gunn, Teamwork Englewood's executive director.
Among the apps was "Guess that Lyric," which allows users listen to a snippet of a song and then challenges them to select the correct artist. In Marie's Cupcake Game, the user has to guess the ingredients in specific cakes and cupcakes. One question asks for the main ingredient in cheesecake. If guessed correctly, the user is taken to the next screen.
The apps eventually will be available in the Google Play Store, Steward said.
Charles McGraw, 16, and his group developed Quick Hoops, a basketball trivia app in which the user answers as many questions as possible before time runs out. A sample question, “Who was number 32 on the Heat in 2005?” had four potential answers. (If your guess was Shaquille O'Neal, you're right.)
Charles said working on the app was fun: “It got hard at times, but we still came together and got it done,” he said.
Group member Michael Nash, 16, is now interested in a career in computers.
“It was very interesting and exciting because it was my first time even working with computers like that,” he said. “I was happy to do something like this. As soon as I heard about the program I wanted to get in. Kids need stuff like this.”
Tamia Creed, 16, and Joshua Moodie, 14, developed Food Is Life, an app that helps children learn their food groups.
Tamia said they “love food” so the idea came easily.
“I thought the presentations were really good for students learning how to build apps for the first time,” said the Rev. Charles Moodie of Chicago City Life Center.
“In our community, most of our students don’t even have the basic technology that mainstream America is working with. So for them to get a glimpse of how to build apps and how computers work, this will give them a greater opportunity at getting jobs.”
Steward said there’s a disparity in the tech field. He wants to help change that by exposing students of color to technology skills.
“We are not represented,” he said. “Coming into underserved communities and looking for talent is not on the radar for big tech companies.”
He envisions his program becoming a model for the City of Chicago.
Teamwork Englewood will start a new session in mid-January, said Gunn.
“These are skills a young person can take and become an entrepreneur and make apps on the side,” he said. “This can get them interested in technology careers. This is exciting because we have young people learning technology skills, learning how to create apps — these are lifelong skills.”
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