MIT App Inventor
The MIT App Inventor is a powerful tool that allows anyone, regardless of experience, to start creating powerful apps quickly. It is our recommended platform for teams with no coding experience. The platform is cloud-based, so it requires no software to be downloaded to a computer, and it designs apps that can be tested using an Android device or Android emulator. The App Inventor website offers a step-by-step guide that will walk you through building a simple app as well as tutorials for building more powerful apps and a forum where community members answer questions. AppInventor.org also provides learning materials specific to MIT App Inventor, including a full book with tutorials and different coding topics that can be found for free here.
Learning to Code
If you are interested in going beyond a drag-and-drop interface and learning coding languages, these resources provide some good places to start:
● Scratch is an introductory “coding language” that teaches you how to think like a programmer.
● Code.org provides resources for learning to code as well as links to other useful sites.
● CodeAcademy.com has courses in many programming languages, though some are paid.
How to Get Help
If your team stuck while working on their app, here are some places they might go for more personalized help and answers to their questions:
● StackOverflow is the “world’s largest developer community,” where you can post questions and have them answered by other developers.
● The partners page of the Congressional App Challenge website has many organizations with a presence in North Carolina. Many sponsor coding clubs that could be great resources and serve as a connection to more experienced developers if available in your area.
● You can also reach out to local educators teaching Computer Science or with an interest in computer science. Even if the course isn’t offered at your school, oftentimes professors at other area high schools or the local community college would be happy to offer advice.
● Groups can reach out to their NCBCE intern who can provide generalized advice as well as recommendations on where to get more detailed help.
More Coding Resources
MIT App Inventor:
● This article compares the experience developing an in MIT App Inventor vs. Java. If your team has some programming experience and can’t decide if it would rather use MIT App Inventor or go with a more complex programming language, it may be useful reading.
Teaching Computer Science:
● CS for All Teachers is an online community dedicated to computer science teachers and teachers who want to teach computer science. It has links to other resources, tutorials, and forums where you can post CS questions and get them answered. It’s a great resource if you’re trying to take a more active role in helping your team through the RSA challenge or if you’re interested in expanding your CS involvement outside of the RSA challenge.
● Hour of Code has one-hour tutorials that are a great way to get lots of students interested in computer science (ideal if you wanted to attract students within your school to an RSA competition team, or if you wanted to drum-up CS interest outside of an RSA context). They also have useful follow-up materials and resources that could be helpful during app development for RSA.