BARRINGTON – A new class at Barrington High School will have its students developing their very own mobile apps by the end of the school year.
The new mobile application development course is modeled off an intense eight-week iOS Bootcamp known as The Mobile Makers Academy, which started in May. Tom Bredemeier, a computer science teacher, and Brian Mathian, a graphic design teacher, attended.
“The boot camp was being taught by real developers with real customers,” Bredemeier said.
During the first four weeks of boot camp, participants learned how to use the software and code. For the rest of the time, they developed a mobile app.
“I love to code and so every day, I got to go downtown," Bredemeier said, "and just do coding all day long."
Mathian, however, had no previous coding experience, but wanted to try something new.
“We built two basic apps on the first day,” Mathian said.
While the majority of building an app is coding, he said, there is also a visual appeal to mobile apps that appeals to the graphic designer in him.
Barrington High School offers three sections of the class this year, with more than 70 students enrolled. Classes, which have no pre-requisites, are open to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Bredemeier said he hopes to get some of the apps into the App Store.
Bredemeier and Mathian agree that the class appeals to a wide range of students: experienced coders, inexperienced coders, boys and girls, computer science students and, really, students interested in any program.
“I’m astounded with the students that are in there,” Bredemeier said. “When they show up in class, they are excited to be coding.”
Bredemeier said he would consider the class to be college-level. Since the class is project-based, grading will be done based on the students’ mastery of the subject. Mathian added the course is set up to differentiate for all skill levels, so while there is always basic criteria to meet, the course offers additional “stretches” for those with more coding skills.
“You can meet your own expectations,” Mathian said. “Kids will be able to make a mobile app (at the end of this class).”
Bredemeier added that completion of this course is something that students can put on their resumes. The program also teaches Swift – the newest coding language – just launched in June.
Enrollment in computer science has steadily increased at Barrington High School. About 300 students, or 10 percent of the high school population, are enrolled in computer science courses.
Bredemeier said enrollment has doubled each year for the past five years and while the split isn’t yet 50-50 boys and girls, enrollment of girls has quadrupled, jumping from 20 to 80. Part of that, he said, is that computer science offers a fast-growing job market, with a huge demand for mobile app developers.
“I think one of the big things (this new course) adds, is it really opens up opportunities,” said Julie Baylor, department head for science and engineering.