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Oh Appy Day!

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

So it goes

On Monday 17th February Shaun, our Head of Technical Development and myself headed to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) for a city-wide schools event organised by the STEM office – ‘iTech – Design Your Future.’

This exciting and varied day brought businesses and individuals from all parts of the STEM community together to inspire young people about the wonderful opportunities available within STEM-based careers. In case you didn’t know, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. As both Shaun and I are registered STEM Ambassadors, we were happy to step up to creating and running a workshop at iTech.

iTech
Given only 45 minutes per session, with 10 students each time, we wanted the session to be swift, easy to grasp, engaging and inspiring which would also provide the students with something tangible they could take away with them.

AppShed is a simple web-based app design tool that we have used in other recent educational events, like O2’s Think Big School. This turned out to be the perfect solution, so I got to work and created a worksheet with basic instructions on how to create a tourism app for Manchester using the site. The instructions featured a gallery to show off our biggest attractions and a maps tab to assist visitors to navigate around the city with ease. This allowed students to get stuck in and spend the maximum amount of workshop time designing and building their app.

Working in pairs on the day, most of the students stuck to our ideas, but others felt confident enough to be creative and make an app that related to their own interests once they’d grasped the basics of how the website works. One of the students started a Barn Owl conservation app, with a photo gallery and a map to log sightings of the creatures in order to track their locations and movements. Another student surprised us by unlocking the code beneath the website and had intentions of adding his own code to his app using JavaScript at home!

As the students could save their apps and then share them to their Facebook/Twitter feeds and to a URL to bookmark on their smartphone – they were able to show their fellow students, teachers, friends and family what they had built. We had a few excited and proud young people heading out of the door showing off their functioning app on their phone.

The students were guided around the event by dedicated STEM ambassadors, who are people in STEM careers or areas of expertise, or people with knowledge of STEM subjects who give their own time to inspire young people to consider STEM subjects and careers.

STEM

The event was a huge logistical undertaking and we were pleased to be involved and to lend support to our Manchester STEM team, it’s great to see so many students excited by and interested in STEM careers. We may have even sparked a passion in a future application developer!