From Lenovos to Macs: CS Teacher Brings Innovative Tech Program to CPHS

Mobile Makers Course Makes Fall Debut

During+one+of+her+classes%2C+Mobile+Maker+teacher%2C+Cheri+Whalen%2C+clicks+through+one+of+her+iPads.+In+addition+to+30+MacBook+Pros%2C+the+Mobile+Makers+course+also+received+30+of+the+newest+generation+iPads.+%22We+had+to+use+Macs+because+this+program+is+being+partnered+with+Apple%2C%22+Whalen+said.+

Photo by Paige Hert

During one of her classes, Mobile Maker teacher, Cheri Whalen, clicks through one of her iPads. In addition to 30 MacBook Pros, the Mobile Makers course also received 30 of the newest generation iPads. “We had to use Macs because this program is being partnered with Apple,” Whalen said.

Rachana Kommineni, Reporter

Macs, iPads, and tech skills — these are just some of the perks of being a student involved in Mobile Makers. 

Mobile Makers, an app development program where students build apps through Swift and Xcode, arrived at CPHS earlier this semester, making it the first high school in Texas to host the program through Uncharted Learning, a company based in Chicago. 

Computer science and Mobile Makers instructor, Cheri Whalen, said she wanted to introduce a program like Mobile Makers to the school for many years to add a “spark” to the computer science department. 

“I wanted something that was inclusive but exclusive at the same time,” Whalen said. “Exclusive for other schools, but inclusive for us.”

She started talking to Principal John Sloan and the district’s career and technology officials five years ago, and received approval for the program over a year and a half ago. In the time between the project’s approval and implementation at CPHS, Whalen underwent extensive training to learn how to effectively lead Mobile Makers. 

I feel proud and full of gratitude because the district approved it and put time and effort into it, and the pride that I feel in our district for investing in our students is overwhelming for me.”

“This course made me think of what I could do to learn more and be better so that my students will better understand what it would be like to grow up and be a programmer,” Whalen said.

According to Whalen, Mobile Makers attracts students who otherwise would not know what computer science is, as the course teaches students coding techniques as they go. 

“We need real world project-based learning, not learning lines of code because it’s deeper than that,” Whalen said. 

While attending the instructor training for Mobile Makers, Whalen said she was instantly sold because the program prioritized hands-on and not lecture-based learning. 

“They had teaching methodologies that I believe in at the depth of my teaching philosophy,” Whalen said. “Their philosophy is to teach you what it’s like to be a developer in the real world, so that you will learn what it is like to not just learn lines of code, but the culture and the environment of creativity and tech and team-centeredness and collaborations, which you talk about in class, but don’t get to experience.”

At the end of the course, students will develop an app with a team and will market it. On parent and industry night, students present their apps to a panel of parents and industry professionals  who then determine which groups created the best apps.  

Win or lose, all student groups will have the opportunity to put their app on Apple’s app store. Groups are also encouraged to put their apps’ QR codes across the school building if they only want CPHS students to have access. 

Students in the Mobile Makers course were checked out a MacBook Pro to use for the course. (Paige Hert)

“You can join Apple’s app store and can be a developer and have a presence there before you graduate high school,” Whalen said.

Junior Olivia Laster said she joined this course because she said that computer science skills are essential to learn for the future and she liked how Mobile Makers did not require prior knowledge about computer science, so she said that more people would be interested in trying out the program. 

“I took the class to have computer skills in life for any job I get, and I’m hoping to be able to build my own app to help me in the future,” Laster said. 

 

In addition to helping high schoolers with computer skills, Whalen also said she views Mobile Makers as an investment for students at CPHS.  

“I feel proud and full of gratitude because the district approved it and put time and effort into it, and the pride that I feel in our district for investing in our students is overwhelming for me,” Whalen said.