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Competition, Learning, App Development – Oh, My!

Thanks to a remarkable young man, Jy’Mir Fuller, attending JMHS, I’m having an exciting couple of days, and I thought I should share it with you.   Jy’Mir told me about a competition that might interest others with kids in school or potential volunteers.  Students can potentially get an internship to help with the contest or learn about programming.   The timing looks excellent, particularly since our district isn’t participating in the Congressional App Challenge.  [Edit: In a wild twist, the 9th District changed its mind, and now kids in Chatham could enter the Congressional App Challenge also.]  I hope that we can get a team together at Jordan Matthews. 

Ready, Set, App! – North Carolina Business Committee for Education (

North Carolina Business Committee for Education runs this competition with many initiatives and programs to get NC students into NC businesses.   Have a look—it’s a deep website with information for workplaces, students, and educators.

North Carolina Business Committee for Education (

Finally, the Ready, Set, App!  is for building apps for mobile devices and suggested the MIT App Inventor, a fantastic thing that lets you build apps by dragging and dropping in a browser, and then you test your app using your phone. 

This is accomplished by installing the MIT App Inventor Companion app and using a QR code to link the computer and phone.  I usually use Python.  Here is a simple program in Python that I will use to teach some coding but also I can teach them something about spending wisely, investments, compounding, safe withdrawal rates, and financial freedom.

Programming in MIT App Inventor is done using visual coding, which took some time to figure out but less time than starting any new language, I think. 

The upside is that you can make a real app for mobile.  Here is the result from the above:

Exporting to Android is straightforward and putting it on the Play Store looks doable.  iPhone is more locked down, but still doable, probably, with some investment.  And the apps that you can create can use all the sensors on your phone, can use maps, can include Bluetooth, phone, and texting, can connect to Lego Mindstorm, etc.   If you are into this sort of thing, you could have a great time.

MIT App Inventor

Here are the apps created last year in the Ready, Set, App! competition created by the MIT App Inventor.  They comprised about 10 of the 26 entries. 

Some of the top entries are using no-code or low-code development kits (Thunkable) all the way to Java & Android Studio and “ReactJS framework with a JSON bin for data storage and python Flask APIs” (oh, ok, sure).

I hope you find this interesting.  Let me know if you would like to help and I will see if we can make that happen.

Burney Waring

Innovate Chatham President


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