Lesson 10: The Right App
Unplugged | Impacts of Computing
This lesson has students recognize that computer science can help people in real life. First, students empathize with several fictional smartphone users in order to help them find the “right app” that addresses their needs. Then, students exercise empathy and creativity to sketch their own smartphone app that addresses the needs of one additional user.
Today, computing is more accessible than ever before. People from all walks of life use software on many different devices, particularly smartphones, for information, communication, and entertainment. Because people have such diverse experiences and needs, it is important for budding computer scientists to empathize with people and identify solutions with them in mind.
Warm Up (5 - 10 min)
Activity (35 min)
Wrap Up (5 min)
Students will be able to:
- List several different examples of smartphone apps.
- Recommend technology to others based on their unique needs.
- Apply empathy and creativity to design technology for others.
- Read through the speaker notes in The Right App Scenarios slide deck.
- Prepare enough sketching/drawing supplies for all students.
- Make sure each student has a Think Spot Journal.
Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.
For the Students
Warm Up (5 - 10 min)
What's an app?
Discuss: Ask students if they have ever played a game on a smartphone. If you have one of your own, show a few examples, or show screenshots of smartphone games on the web.
Discuss: Ask students what else they can do on a smartphone.
Examples to add to students' responses. Provide screenshots or live examples if available:
- search the web for information
- do math with a calculator
- talk to friends and family
- listen to music
- watch videos
- get directions using a map
- You might notice that many of the things you can do on a smartphone you can also do on a computer. This is because smartphones are actually computers, just smaller than those we use in computer science class.
- Smartphone programs are usually called "apps". Apps allow us to do all the things we just mentioned, along with many others.
- Smartphones are small and easy to take with us wherever we go, making it easy to do things that would be difficult otherwise.
Discuss: Ask students if they have ever gotten frustrated while using an app. For example, have they ever played a game that was too hard, or the buttons didn't work, or other problems prevented them from having fun? Have they ever tried going to a website and couldn't because it was too hard to figure out how? Allow students to present an anecdote or two of their own about apps that caused them problems.
- Apps are made for people to use, just as food is made for people to eat.
- So, just like cooking, it’s important to know what people want when making an app.
- An app that is made with no one in mind is probably going to have lots of problems!
Remark that there are many questions we can ask when suggesting or making an app for someone. Ideally, we want to ask questions that can help us "walk in a user's shoes":
- What do they want to do?
- What do they like?
- What is their personality?
- What kind of computer do they have?
Transition: Tell students that there are a few code.org friends who are struggling to find the smartphones app that are "just right" for them. Ask if they are ready to put their expert skills to use and help their friends.
Activity (35 min)
"The Right App" Scenarios (15 min)
Display: Display each scenario from The Right App (see Preparation section). While displaying a scenario image, read its accompanying script to the class (see below). After each scenario, ask students to vote on which app they would choose for their friend, then discuss their reasons why.
The Right App Scenarios
Scenario 1: Daisy the Dragon
Slide 1: Help! Daisy the Dragon wants to play with her penguin classmates. However, when Daisy talks, her hot breath warms up anyone she is near, and penguins don’t enjoy that AT ALL. So Daisy wants an app that can help her with this problem.
Slide 2: Which is the right app for Daisy?
- Dance Master: an app that teaches you cool dance moves.
- Am I Too Close?!: an app that shouts “too close!” if you are too close to someone.
Slide 3: Daisy decides to use “Am I Too Close?!”, which makes it easier for her to play with her penguin friends! When they get too close, the app warns her with a friendly shout, “Too close!” Daisy and the penguins are happy! “Am I Too Close?!” is the right app for Daisy!
Scenario 2: Sam the Bat
Slide 4: Help! Sam the Bat wants to listen to his favorite music on his phone while he flies through the night sky. He’s considering two different music apps, but he doesn’t know which one is best for him. As a bat, Sam has poor eyesight but excellent hearing. He also happens to sing very well!
Slide 5: Which is the right app for Sam?
- Eyes ‘n Ears: a music app that has a lot of tiny buttons.
- Sing ‘n Play: a music app that lets you press a BIG green button to record your voice. You sing a part of any song you want to hear, and it’ll play it for you.
Slide 6: Sam decides to use “Sing ‘n Play”. He simply presses the BIG green button, sings the first part of a song he likes, then the app plays the entire song for him! It’s that easy! And that’s why “Sing ‘n Play” is the right app for Sam!
Scenario 3: Codella the Witch
Slide 7: Help! Codella the Witch is a serious gamer, and she’s looking for a new game to play. Codella has many different kinds of computers, including a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone. Her favorite games are those she can play on all of her computers, including her smartphone.
Slide 8: Which is the right app for Codella?
- Sort Knight: a game where you play as a knight who travels around sorting everything. Also has cool dance moves. You can play it on many different kinds of computers!
- Mobo-Robo: a game that lets you build cool robots and make them do whatever you want. You can only play it on smartphones and tablets, though.
Slide 9: Codella decides to play “Sort Knight”. At first she’s not sure if she’ll like it (she doesn’t really like sorting things), but she loves that she can play it on any of her computers, and that’s really important to her as a serious gamer. The more Codella plays “Sort Knight”, the more she loves it. “Sort Knight” is the right app for her!
App Design Activity (20 min)
The final scenario allows students to sketch their own app design.
The Right App Design
Scenario 4: Anton the Alien
Slide 10: Help! Anton the Alien has crash-landed on Earth and is waiting for his fellow aliens to come rescue him. Until then, he has nothing to do, so he heads to a local library to find a book to read (Anton LOVES reading books). Unfortunately, all the books at the library are written in Earthling languages like English, Chinese, Spanish, and many others. So Anton is out of luck! Or is he?
Slide 11: As an alien, Anton is very good with technology! He immediately opens his super-powered smartphone to look for an app that can help him solve his problem at the library, but he can’t find anything he likes! So let’s each design our own app for Anton!
Distribute: Pass out crayons/pencils/etc to each student as they open their Thinkspot Journals. In their Thinkspot Journals, students design the home screen of the app they believe best suits Anton’s needs. They can refer to the previous activity for inspiration.
Share: After designing, students share their app design with a neighbor, or if there is time, some students can share with the whole class. Each student should answer how their app design is "right" for Anton, given his situation.
Wrap Up (5 min)
Discuss: Discuss real-world examples of how apps can help people solve problems, much like they just experienced with our code.org friends.
Reiterate the importance of empathizing with users when recommending or designing apps.
- Who is this app made for?
- What does the user like?
- What problem do they have, or what do they want?
- Is this "the right app" for them? Why or why not?
- Unplugged Activity
- (click tabs to see student view)
The Right App
- Everyone uses computers these days, especially smartphones.
- Smartphone applications, or "apps", help people do things like talk to friends, listen to music, shop, or just explore the web.
- It is important for programmers to understand others' needs and design apps with them in mind!
CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2017)
CS - Computing Systems
- 1A-CS-01 - Select and operate appropriate software to perform a variety of tasks and recognize that users have different needs and preferences for the technology they use.
IC - Impacts of Computing
- 1A-IC-16 - Compare how people live and work before and after the implementation or adoption of new computing technology.
This list represents opportunities in this lesson to support standards in other content areas.
Common Core English Language Arts Standards
RL - Reading Literature
- 2.RL.3 - Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
- 2.RL.6 - Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.
- 2.RL.7 - Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
SL - Speaking & Listening
- 2.SL.1 - Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
- 2.SL.1.a - Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
- 2.SL.1.c - Ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about the topics and texts under discussion.
- 2.SL.3 - Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
W - Writing
- 2.W.8 - Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.