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14-year-old’s app is No. 1

Robert Nay in Utah has been designing Web sites since the 3rd grade, but now he’s seriously into designing cellphone apps. So seriously that a physics game called “Bubble Ball” which he designed recently moved up to the No. 1 free app in Apple’s App Store, Spotlight on Digital Media & Learning reports. Apparently with some encouragement from his mom, “Nay taught himself programming after checking out a book from his local public library.” As of last week, Bubble Ball had been downloaded more than 2 million times since Nay published it on December 29 (see the video on the Spotlight page for an interview with Robert). Even though programming’s not generally taught in schools, some educators are calling it the new literacy. Drag-and-drop programming tools like Scratch, developed at MIT, are adding to the fun of programming, Spotlight reports. Google has App Inventor for designing apps to run on the Android operating system for cellphones. Here’s Google describing how it’s done: “Creating an App Inventor app begins in your browser, where you design how the app will look. Then, like fitting together puzzle pieces, you set your app’s behavior. All the while, through a live connection between your computer and your phone, your app appears on your phone.” Meanwhile, scientists in the UK are using an Android phone to control a satellite in outerspace, the BBC reports, in a test to see if it’s tough enough and sophisticated enough. Maybe there’s a middle-schooler on the research team!

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