Matt Lucht/flickr

Matt Lucht/flickr

App-building not only teaches students new skills, but inspires lasting confidence.

What difference can a smartphone make to a kids’ education? If you’re a parent or teacher, you’re already thinking of the millions of distractions your children have at their fingertips inside and out of the classroom.

But imagine the possibilities if educators could harness that connection to these now commonplace devices to foster student interest in science and mathematics.

STEM Fields Need Bright Stars

It’s well known that jobs in STEM fields are in high demand, a demand that continues to go unmet due to a scarcity of workers with the required skills. U.S. News and World Report explains that [tweetable alt=”Though young kids express interest in #STEM, most drop out due to a lack of preparedness, says @usnews.” hashtag=””]although young kids express interest in STEM fields, most drop out of relevant courses due to a lack of preparedness.[/tweetable]

If teaching methods are improved, there could be tens of thousands more engineers within four years.

Engineering degree-holders are consistently among the nation’s highest earners, according to Vox, and a ready supply of STEM scholarships pave the way for adequately prepared students. All of this makes a strong math and science foundation more important than ever.

Coding Kids

Intel Free Press/flickr

Intel Free Press/flickr

It’s time to get students to see their smartphones not as a distraction from their studies, but as an opportunity to learn a new skill and solve real-world problems.

App-building, for example, gives students a chance to learn by doing, an alternative to the drudgery of abstract problem sets. Put a lesson’s application in the spotlight, and the results will surprise you.

Take the story of hard-working middle-schoolers in the farming community of Sunnyside, WA, as reported by the Yakima Herald. [tweetable alt=”Sunnyside WA. students attended an after-#school coding program, creating their own #apps, says @Yakima_Herald” hashtag=””]Students gave their afternoons and evenings to an after-school program dedicated to teaching app-building and coding skills, working to create their submit their apps for a regional STEM competition.[/tweetable]

One app was created to help farm workers, the profession held by many of these students’ parents, connect with other farmers to find jobs. Another app, “Bully Report,” allows classmates to anonymously report incidents of bullying.

Yet another helped students practice primary-level arithmetic problems, which led to an appreciation for calculators, technology, and learning.

Little Coders, Big World

The Sunnyside story is a special one, not only because of the way the students were able to engage with the world of computer science, but also because of the effect it had on their confidence. The problems these kids aimed to fix with their apps weren’t only real-world problems — they’re big real-world problems.

Programs that teach kids to code like a Silicon Valley tech wiz are crucial to nurturing early interest in computer science and other STEM fields. Getting your kids excited about building apps is easier than you think.

Introduce them to the rewarding experience of building their own mobile app with Infinite Monkeys‘ intuitive building tool. When it comes to kids and technology, there’s no limit to where their enthusiasm might take them.