Matthew E. Murray is an Instructional Technology Integration Specialist @ The Philadelphia School, who writes articles for the open platform publishing site, Medium, expressing his ideas, passions, and work to get students to “create and interact with content not just consume and regurgitate it.” In this article he describes his extraordinary first experience using TechGirlz TechShopz in a Box! After you’ve read this, make sure to check out how Matthew got involved with TechGirlz and his journey helping to get more girls involved in STEM.
The Philadelphia School hosted its first (but no way its last) TechGirlz TechShopz workshop, “Designing Mobile Apps”. Led by UX specialist Kristen Gallagher, 12 fifth, sixth, and seventh graders came together in the TPS Multipurpose Room to learn about the journey of a tech enthusiast + professional technophile in the field and take the first steps of their own tech-based journey.
Once the girls found their teams, they were first tasked with brainstorming an idea for an app where its function, features, app name, and logo were bandied about in an energetic exchange of ideas. After the teammates engaged in the passionate (and wonderfully loud) discussion, they tapped one representative to share out the basis of their conversation with the crowd. Some of the initial app ideas included an app whose sole purpose was to be an endless scroll, a simulated animal transformation game, a version of Shazam where a simple humming of a song could link you to a streaming version of the track, and another music app that automatically downloads the songs most commonly played on your streaming services.
The teams regrouped after the share-out and began to get their ideas down on paper. As each group met, Danica, Amy, and Marylou, three members from the TechGirlz Team, along with Kristen, circulated the room to assess the quickly forming ideas, ask penetrating questions, and challenge certain notions (some silly, some just in need of more fleshing out). The eager amateur designers began illustrating a user flow and imagined the hypothetical user experience (UX). Although some of the girls claimed “not to be artists,” the logo of Hum (the song-finding app), for example, included an ingenious illustration of multiple “m’s” combined to look identical to sound wave imaging.