Our very own Don Bora - dubbed “White Lightning” by his kickball team - recently spent Career Day introducing Ludwig Elementary School's 4th graders to the field of software engineering.
During Don’s stint, eight classes of 25 students each started by playing a quick game of Simon Says to understand what programs are and how they are used. Mr. Bora then found out what students knew about software engineering before he showed them Xcode, the Specimania app his company built, and a little bit of Objective-C. After the programming mini-lesson, the very eager nine and ten year olds had questions.
Don was pretty blown away too. “The kids’ questions were just great; spot on. I was surprised at how many of them were already absorbing the ‘nerd’ culture.”
There were a few game development questions, but some of the most memorable included “What are the coding languages you can write in?” “How long does it take to make an app?” and “What is a hacker?”
The students’ enthusiasm for programming was reinforced with a quick pep talk from Mr. Bora. “Don’t forget how much fun coding is when you get to seventh grade! If you are a female, remember that women make great programmers, and that Ada Lovelace, a woman, was the first!”
Once Don explained the basics of pair programming, where two students work together on the same device, students were off to collaborating on iPads with the Cargo-Bot app. When a program ran successfully, students gave their partner a high-five. At the end, Mr. Bora asked students, “Who thought that was harder than they expected? Who had something unexpected happen? Who made mistakes?”
Most students kept their hands up for all three questions. He then explained that those challenges are part of the common day of a developer. Students remained excited to make apps and wrote what they learned from the visit on a notecard before leaving for another career.
The Mobile Makers Team’s favorite card? “Don is a nerd.”