App Designing with Students

Each year, my students learn about famous inventors, inventions, and innovation. They learn why inventors create and how their inventions impact the world. Alongside this unit, I love to give my students the opportunity to “think like an inventor” and design their own app! My “Design Your Own App!” unit is a project-based learning assignment that walks students through identifying a need, brainstorming solutions, writing an app proposal and business plan and then creating a presentation to “pitch” their app to the class. Once the apps are designed, my students love coming to school in “professional attire” for the day to pitch their apps to other classes.

How it Works

Learning that design and other inventions are created in response to a need or a problem, the students pinpoint a societal (or personal) need that is relevant to them, possibly involving “market research.” 

Working in groups and/or individually, the project walks the students through the excitement of ideation and brainstorming, and invites them to experiment with “blue sky” thinking to arrive at their “Big Idea.” The kids come up with their very own business plans and present their plans to their peers. Feedback is given and their proposals are either “approved” or “denied.” Once approved, the kids can start designing!

Once designing, students get the opportunity to think like entrepreneurs by creating a logo design, slogan statement, photos in action, price point, user reviews, etc. They also write a short but convincing statement for “why you need this app.”

Google Slides Presentation Template (included)

Building confidence and presentation skills, the “pitch” is often the most fun and rewarding chapter of this assignment.  In my classroom, we used the music from Shark Tank (we called our session “Fish Tank” so it wouldn’t seem as intense!), and invited the teams to dress for success for our “mock professional” presentations.  It’s a great payoff for them! 

The Design Your Own App! project has been really popular among kids and teachers alike. One of the things I love most about it as a project-based learning assignment, is that it allows students to address, in actionable and creative ways, needs which they identify as being meaningful and important to them.  I really saw a sense of empowerment emerge as my students became change agents through their design and problem-solving skills. I hope this project can be useful to you! If so, please be sure to share your stories and photos!

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