Pam Dudding-Burch Contributing writer
Geoff Boyer, a math and mobile computer science teacher, recently received a Certificate of Recognition from the Craig County School Board for being a mentor and Master Teacher of AP Computer Science Principles. “This is an honor for me,” Boyer shared. “I am truly excited about this opportunity that has been opened.”
“I would like to say that we are very proud of Mr. Boyer and are lucky to have him as a teacher in our school division,” CCPS Superintendent Jeanette Warwick said.
“My expertise is not in the Computer Science field as much as it is in programming Android Apps,” Boyer explained. “I have taught a class for the past five years which showed students how to develop, program and publish apps.” He added that in the five years prior, he taught students to program the TI-83 calculators. “The switch to Android Apps seemed more useful and a natural move considering the direction of technology,” he said.
Boyer shares his passion for his career with his students and continues to seek opportunities to broaden his own knowledge as that of others.
“This is the first year that AP Computer Science Principles has been adopted by the College Board as an official AP course,” Boyer said. “This school year, I was one of 120 teachers in the country teaching Mobile CSP.”
In April Boyer attended a basic information course. The National Science Foundation sponsored his trip to St. Paul, Minneapolis, where he was joined by 15 other teachers who attended the Mobile-CSP Master Teacher Orientation. He applied to go to the training and was selected as his experience in app development was an asset to the program they were looking to create.
The course is supported by the Mobile Computer Science Principles Project (Mobile CSP), an NSF-funded effort to provide a broad and rigorous introduction to computer science based on App Inventor, a mobile programming language for Android devices.
“The course is based on the College Board’s emerging Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles curriculum framework for introductory computer science,” Boyer said. “In this course, students learn computer science by building socially useful mobile apps.” In addition to programming and computer science principles, the course is also project-based and emphasizes writing, communication, collaboration and creativity.
Boyer feels that his journey has only just begun. ” In July, I will be in Duluth, Minnesota, to train 60 teachers from around the country to teach this course,” he said.
He shared that his favorite part is enabling other students to be able to experience the success of creating their own apps. ” It’s also rewarding for me to see my students excited about something that they made and so many people from around the world enjoy,” Boyer added. ” It will be nice for those 60 teachers to witness that as well.”
Still, ‘here at home’, Boyer continues to expand the vision of his students of what is possible in the app world. “Developing apps could be a springboard into a career path or simply a hobby,” Boyer said. “The problem-solving skills and the ability to overcome setbacks is probably the most important reward from the class… I like to consider them ‘problem solvers’ for many.”
Several of his students over the last five years have exceeded even his ideas:
*Hannah Lipes developed an app called “Receipt Tracker” that tracks purchases. People can add, delete or search to find exactly when and where they are spending their money.
* Lynsey Taylor made an app titled ‘Workout’. Her app tracks nine different workouts for the user. People can select a range of levels based on their fitness status and get motivation to continue with your exercises.
Boyer also shared about an app one of his students, Olivia Dudding, who graduated in 2013, designed to help young girls make wise decisions. “I don’t remember the specifics now,” Dudding (Slusher) shared. “I do remember that I did a lot of research and listed all the positives and negatives that a medical abortion could have on your body.”
“When Olivia first came to me about her app title decision, I was unsure about it,” Boyer admitted. “However, when she finished it, I was taken back at the professionalism and the angle which she approached the entire subject.” He added that Dudding had included every aspect of the information that a girl would need and in a way that was acceptable to read and learn from.
“Her app made an impact on me,” he said. “Because I asked myself this question, “What if that app made a lifetime difference in one little girl?”
“Mr. Boyer was one of my absolute favorite teachers,” Dudding-Slusher shared who is now married with two children of her own.
Boyer’s students continue to design apps, which have been downloaded in some of the larger cities in America like Boston (MA) and St. Louis (MO) as well as from other countries. Several of Boyer’s students have received over 500 downloads from their apps and two students have already reached over 1000.
Some students have opted to charge for their app, which is common in the tech world today. “I always tell my students that if they choose to do that, they will need to make those arrangements with their parents.” He added that he does not get involved in the decision of financial gains from their knowledge.
In the next school year, Boyer will have two classes. “The first will be mostly the same lessons with new students and the second class will be a follow-up course for my experienced students.” There are currently 20 juniors and seniors students signed up for next year’s class. He has also taught students from the second grade through seventh over the last two years.”
“My students bring social media savvy and technology experience to my class and we hope to pass on what we have learned together,” Boyer said. “We will be working with local business owners who require these skills in order to thrive with the importance of today’s media engagements.”
Boyer wishes to expand this program in Craig County schools, as he and his wife, Pam wish to stay in Craig. “It is nice to be a part of this community and to raise my boys here,” Boyer said. “I am looking forward to this being our home for a long time.”