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Friday, October 25, 2019

Highlands student sets out on his future path with App Development course

Computer Science teacher Chad Niedert with his student Luke Weidner discuss the App Developer Flight Path.

The student showcase this month at the Fort Thomas Independent School Board meeting focused on the work of Highlands High School students taking the App Development course through a new Flight Path program. Senior Luke Weidner shared his experiences in the class and demonstrated an app he has been developing to enhance crowd photography during sporting events.

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He was joined by his teacher Chad Niedert who explained how the course has supported students on several levels from beginner through the advanced work like that being done by Weidner, thanks in part to the resources available through the Launch education center.

The App Development program is one of three "Flight Paths," programs designed to offer students specific courses and opportunities that will prepare them for future careers. The other Flight Paths include Health Innovations and Entrepreneurship.

Students in the App Development path have a unique opportunity to learn and work with programming in the Swift language, the newest Apple products programming language, explained Niedert.

Although it is now the "go-to" programming language for many Fortune 500 companies, Swift app development is not the norm across the U.S., and there few colleges that teach it, mostly because students must have access to MacBooks, he explained.

For Weidner, who has been taking computer science classes since he was very young, the app development class offers him larger blocks of time, two-hour blocks, to work on his projects rather than a traditional 50-minute class. It also offers him the time, space and opportunity to explore and take his own learning to a new level.

Niedert says the program is flexible so that he can work with students on all levels. He has seven students in the class all with different familiarity with programming and computer science. "To what Luke said, he’s taken just about every computer science class prior to this year, and there’s another two other students that are in a similar boat. This is an option for them beyond the dual credit opportunities. But, for the other half of the students, this is the first time they’ve taken computer science classes."

It can be intimidating for the newer students when sitting next to peers working and collaborating on an advanced level. The program allows Niedert to provide beginning students more structured instruction and projects.

Regardless of skill level, Niedert tries to simulate how developers and programmers work in the real world. He is still learning himself, so he serves as a resource but encourages the students to work together and research solutions to problems.

Weidner showed off his latest project under development, an app that would allow people share video of themselves at stadiums similar to getting noticed in the crowd on the "kiss cam" or "fan cam." Right now, whether you make it onto the stadium’s large crowd camera is just a matter of luck, but the student is developing a program that would allow someone to record themselves in the stands at a game, send the video to a server where the footage could be selected and uploaded to the stadium monitor.

A work in progress, he is working with another student to finish the app and hopes to pilot it in the Highlands Stadium.

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