Time to make it 'app-en

Time to make it 'app-en

A workshop offered girls the chance to create their own apps in just a single day

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Jennifer Barba (left) and Michelle Sun were the tutors at AppJamming, a workshop for girls aged 12-15 who want to learn the basics of computer programming and create their own apps
Jennifer Barba (left) and Michelle Sun were the tutors at AppJamming, a workshop for girls aged 12-15 who want to learn the basics of computer programming and create their own apps
Photos: K.Y. Cheng/SCMP

Apps are an important part of our lives: from the useful ones for money-saving or messaging, to those that stop you being bored, like Candy Crush. While they may be simple to use, there are complicated codes and messy mathematical equations behind the neat icons.

AppJamming - Girls Can Code is a workshop for teenage girls where they can learn how to make apps ... in just one day! The workshop, held in July, was sponsored by Google's Women Entrepreneurs Online, and helped young women get involved with computer programming.

Our junior reporter, Minnie Yip, was invited to try making an app in a day...

Knocking down the blocks

Every day, we're surrounded by efficient, easy-to-use apps that can do loads of different, cool things. But behind all of it are bunches of codes called "blocks".

At the workshop, our first task was to make a cat image "meow". This was harder than it sounds. Just to make that happen, you needed numerous blocks, such as "when Button click, call Sound play". It looked difficult but it was easy to learn - all the blocks are labelled by texts so it wasn't hard to put them in order. It was like a clear instruction manual.

When designing an app, you should not miss a single step of coding. A wrong code could result in the app not working properly. Think of it as knocking over a domino line, where every single domino must be perfectly placed for the chain to work.

Once we understood the basic idea of building a program, we were divided into teams and made our own app called MoleMash (pictured below), a game where the aim was to shoot a coloured ball at a moving mole. To make this simple game, we needed to use around 60 programming blocks.

It's easy to assume that computer programming is just for professionals with university degrees because it looks so complicated. But the workshop taught us that even teenage girls can create an app. All you need is a computer, an internet connection, and great teachers!

The workshop taught coding to girls. If you think the technology industry is for men, you are wrong! The workshop showed how fun and rewarding computer programming can be for girls, too. Hopefully, the tide will turn soon, with great role models for girls to follow, such as Marissa Mayer, who invented the Google search homepage, and Natalie Massenet, who started up Net-A-Porter, a huge online fashion retailer.

Young Post organises regular activities for our junior reporters. If you wish to join, send your name, age, school and contact details to reporters.club@scmp.com with "jun rep application" in the subject field

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