Who is Zora Ball? While you may not recognize the first grader’s name now, chances are you will be hearing it again, as she is currently the youngest person to have created a mobile game app. While computer programming is perhaps not a typical school activity for an average 7 year old, it is for students at Zora’s charter school. Zora created the mobile app while taking part in an initiative by the Foundation for the Advancement of Technology and Education (FATE).
According to their website FATE is a “non-profit corporation whose mission is to promote the skilled and intelligent use of education technology by educators and learners through targeted demonstration, funding and community networking in the Greater Philadelphia area.”
Through a program called Bootstrap, Zora was able to design her video game. Bootstrap teaches students how to program their own videogames using algebraic and geometric concepts. While they don’t use actual computer programming language, they instead use actual math to design simple games.
Perhaps not surprisingly, mobile video game app creation is not all just fun and games. Students build the games using algebra and geometry, thereby making it easier to apply those concepts learned building the games, to broader mathematical problems. Many computer programming languages use concept that are actually incompatible with algebra, which could make it difficult for students to use what they learn in programming in math class. Bootstrap is engineered so that functions and variables behave as they do in mathematics, rather than as they do in classical computer programming, so that mathematical reasoning is reinforced.
Over time, FATE plans to continue to work with Bootstrap in order to train more teachers and collect more research. It looks as though we can look forward to more apps created by kids, as this is just the beginning of integrating technology and education.
[Image via heavy]