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App Authors Project expands its reach, bringing coding to kids at new sites


MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Quealy-Gainer (|217-265-0608)

Champaign, IL (May 10th, 2017)—The App Authors project has been underway for over a year now, bringing kids and technology together to create apps through a child-centered curriculum at Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library and Kenwood Elementary. The program, developed by the Center for Children’s Books and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is offered to kids regardless of experience level and gives them familiarity with problem solving and the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills. App Authors is now expanding its reach, working at sites in Maryland and Oregon as well as remaining in Champaign.


“We’re excited about expanding our reach this year,” said Deborah Stevenson, PI of the project and director of the Center for Children’s Books. “Our partnerships with the Frederick County Public Libraries in Maryland and the Springfield Public Library in Oregon will allow our curriculum to serve more youth, and input from these partners will help us refine and improve our curriculum for the future.”

Douglass Library will be again offering its summer session of the program, this year from June 5th to July 21st, with a showcase session on July 27th. CCB volunteers and research assistants will be on hand, helping participants move from predesign, through the construction of their app, and then to the revision process over program’s durations. The curriculum focuses on the play aspect of building apps, using the kids’ own ideas (i.e. a jumping horse, a school day, a nail salon, etc.) as a springboard for their creations and then teaching the students the technical skills to turn their visions into successful apps.

“The process of creation and revision are as much, if not more, important than the final product. Our goal is to communicate to the kids that coding is not necessarily about the finished app. We try to emphasize the notion that the creative process is not a straight line but one that includes visits back to the drawing board and lots of modifications,” says Lauren Gray, the research assistant who has led the curriculum development and on-site sessions this year.

This is the second phase of the CCB’s Closing the App Gap three-year project, which addresses the app gap, the income-related disparity in young people’s access to handheld technology. The project will develop curricula for app-building in school and public libraries and will see the program repeated at the above mentioned sites plus two to five new library venues, allowing us to reach hundreds of children directly and to refine a program that other libraries can adopt for their own use. The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Center for Children’s Books $248,205 to support the project.

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