Android App Created by 6th Grader Helps Kids Practice for Math Tests

Staples High School Senior Philip DeMunck and Helen Keller Middle School 6th grader Yu-Min Cho meet on many Saturday mornings to work on ideas for apps. After practicing coding together for several months at Happy Code Club in Stamford earlier this year, DeMunck decided to embark on a project based on Yu-Min’s original idea to build an educational math app using MIT’s App Inventor development platform.

Helen Keller Middle School 6th grader and app developer Yu-Min Cho

After many hours of collaboration and several iterations of the app, in March 2020, the pair published Math Zoo to help elementary and middle school students practice solving grade level arithmetic and algebra problems. Available on the Google Play Store, the original concept and name for Math Zoo were both Yu-Min’s and — with the help of his mentor and Happy Code Club instructor Philip — they used App Inventor to plan the goals, program their ideas, and troubleshoot problems until they had a working version worthy of sharing with the world.

App Inventor is a free open source coding platform and a potential teaching resource for other middle school and high school students who are interested in building Android apps like Yu-Min’s that provide solutions for real-world learning problems. App Inventor can also be used to make gaming apps or to develop a wide range of tools to do ingenious and fun things.

DeMunck and Yu-Min had to overcome several design challenges during the development process, which resulted in adding functions and building larger concepts within the app like a problem generator.

“We sometimes had trouble when we created a bug because there are no debug prompts in App Inventor, so we had to very closely look to see where an issue may have arisen,” DeMunck said. “Building an app from the ground up with such complicated features — such as database storage, problem generation, and multiple screens — caused us to constantly have to improve and redesign portions to make them better for the end user.”

DeMunck gives high praise to his middle school collaborator Yu-Min, who said he found the app development process challenging but fun at the same time. “I am proud to have completed my first app and hope that I can create many more.”

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