Tap on your phone and open an app. But ever wonder how it got there? A group of students at Marion Harding High School know, thanks to tackling the Apple Inclusive App Design activity, launched in celebration of this year’s Computer Science Education Week.
Six weeks ago in their Marketing Principles class, Margo Long, Ohio State University Extension Workforce Development and Pathways Program Manager, introduced the students to coding. After working with them to understand the technology involved, they learned about inclusive app design.
The goal was to create an app prototype focused on inclusion and social justice. Whitney Gherman, Marion County OSU Extension Family and Consumer Science educator stressed the importance of bringing their voice to the app and making sure their results were inclusive to all people.
Earlier this week, seven teams shared their ideas and the app prototypes they developed with a group of local experts in a special Community Showcase. Topics included making it easier to order lunch at school, accessing mental health resources, school maps, and matching your personality to just the right rescue dog.
Top honors went to Faye Hardy, whose “Rainbow Help” app focuses on providing youth with LGBTQIA+ resources. They discovered it was hard to find an app that “helps you figure out who you are,” and designed the Rainbow Help app prototype to include links to safe places, social media resources, key terms and history.
“It’s important, because our community needs representation and help,” said Faye. “There just aren’t enough resources available.”
The judges agreed. “Faye’s design was impressive, ”said Dr. Mark Light, OSU Extension STEM specialist and a judge for the program. “It met the challenge goal of raising awareness about a cause and being inclusive. Our goal with teaching computer science principles through 4-H is to help youth become content creators, rather than just content consumers.”
Olivia Davis, the class teacher, was impressed by what her students accomplished in six weeks. “It is really cool integrating technology into diversity and inclusion work, and great to watch students’ ideas grow. I loved watching them use their voice to build community.”
Faye's voice and app idea presentation will be featured Thursday during “A Celebration of Inclusive Design,” an Apple Community Education Initiative event for Computer Science Education Week. Faye’s design will be represented alongside other students’ ideas and shared among educators and leaders from all over the county.
Faye’s just wants to make a difference. “If my app can help youth live their lives without worrying about navigating their journey alone, it is all worth it.”