Seaholm Students Develop New Apps

Seaholm students introduce new app advancements.

For sophomore Sebastian Fay, app development is a new passion.

After attending a two-week app development camp this summer at the University of Michigan, Fay shortly released his first app, called Color Dodge on October 13.

Fay describes app development as an enjoyable hobby that holds potential for a future job and opportunity.

His first app, Color Dodge, involves users playing from the perspective of a large purple ball. The users must steer the purple ball clear from a series of falling balls. This can be achieved through a free or restricted mode, following four levels of difficulty.

“I was looking through the app store one day, just seeing what games were out. I didn’t see anything cool, so I was like, ‘Hey, what if I just created something that I would like, and I decided I could actually do it,’ Fay said. “I looked up how to do it, but I didn’t have the right tools, so I got the right tools, took a summer camp and learned how to do it.”

Fay’s older sister, senior Fiona Fay is proud of Sebastian’s accomplishments.

“I think it’s a great starting point,” Fiona Fay said. “So, although it’s so simple, I think there’s so much behind the app that he put into it, a lot of hard work, and I know it’s a starting point for him so I’m really excited to see where it goes.”

Color Dodge is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. According to Fay, currently, Color Dodge has received 1500 downloads.

Fay recently released an update for the app, on October 29, in which he introduced new layout designs, and made users’ scores simultaneously appear while playing the app.

While app development is a new passion of Fay’s, he predicts pursuing it in the future and aspires to create an app ranked among the top 100.

Fiona Fay has confidence in her brother’s abilities and anticipates app development as the stepping-stone to Sebastian’s future.

“Sebastian is a very determined guy. He taught himself how to play the guitar. He does these things, he has a random obsession with something and he’ll go out and do it,” Fiona Fay said. “It’s interesting though, because he’ll do it and be like, ‘Okay, I conquered that, what’s next.’ So I’m curious to see, because this is not just like a one and done kind of thing. You can actually make this into a big, serious thing, and I’m interested to see how he’s going to take it.”

For Sophomore Andrew Arpasi app development has been an interest that took off from third grade, when he first began learning computer programming.

“I have been programing for a long time, since I was in third grade and I’ve always enjoyed programming and developing things in general,” Arpasi said. “So, I first got into iOS last year and I thought it was a great platform, great opportunity. So I started there.”

StarCatch, Arpasi’s first app interested him in pursuing the industry of iOS development. In StarCatch, users’ goal is to catch red stars, while avoiding blue stars; Arpasi initially created StarCatch to learn the process of app development.

PageStudio, Arpasi’s second app was designed for creating and editing websites for HTML.

“I got the idea [of PageStudio] because I was looking for a good website editor for the iPad,” Arpasi said. “The apps that I found were either too junky or too expensive, so I decided to create Page Studio as something that would be a web editor, that I could use and sell it for a lot less, in comparison to the others.”

Arpasi is in the process of releasing his third app, MindRush, soon.

“It’s [MindRush] a brain training game designed to exercise your brain,” Arpasi said. “Basically, its divided into ten second rounds of increasing difficulty where you must guess the first letter of the corresponding shape or the color of the text presented and it gets pretty intense very quickly. So, it’s really designed to exercise your brain.”

Arpasi plans to pursue app development in the future. He strives to develop an app that would create a profound difference in the world.

“I like making things that people use and enjoy, and when I see people using my apps and enjoying them, it really makes me happy,” Arpasi said.

Senior Russell Ladd’s interest in app development followed through his experiences at Quarton Elementary School. Ms. Woodman, Ladd’s fifth grade teacher ran an after-school computer club in which Ladd first became interested in creating websites and graphics, and started developing software.

Ladd attended a camp at the University of Michigan, in which he created simple games involving Dragon Drop Interface. In the spring of sixth grade he began teaching himself how to develop apps through online resources.

“The next year, I decided I wanted to take a programming class in the summer, but before, like in the spring I was not really willing to wait, so I just taught myself online, using websites I found,” Ladd said.”It was a struggle in the beginning.”

Ladd has currently made four apps that he considers complete.

He released his first app, Polyfactor in eighth grade. Upset with the method to solve for polynomials, Ladd aspired to create an app geared towards the iPhone and iPod Touch that would factor polynomials.

Ladd’s second app Blatch, is a kind of block matching game where users are given grids of colored blocks. They must match them according to place and color to make them fit together.

“Blatch was an idea I had for a game, actually before Polyfactor. I made it for the PC when I was like in seventh grade, but I had no way to distribute it. So, that’s why I got into iOS app development,” Ladd said. “I found the app store, it was a major distribution and I was like, ‘I want to do that.’ So, I ended up making that game again for the iPad when I was in tenth grade.”

Last year Ladd met with his fifth grade teacher, Ms. Woodman again, in which his third app, Cards, was constituted. Cards was designed as a spelling software Miss Woodman could incorporate in her classroom.

Miss Woodman’s class matched cards with spelling words that were often grouped by similar sounds, spellings and prefixes or suffixes. Then, the students would fill out worksheets.

“So what we would do is make an app that did that. The teachers would type in all of their words in the application, and then it would create these word sorts, and it was all saved to iCloud. So, it was synced to the classroom’s set of iPads, and they could pass out the iPads to all the students,” Ladd said. “Then, you could drag the cards into the right spots on the side. They would stack up. Then, when you’re done, you could hit check and it would tell you whether or not you were right.”

Cards is unavailable in the app store.

Ladd released his newest app, Synapsia on October 23. Synapsia takes a similar approach to Cards, but is more universally applicable, as it expands teachers’ and students’ options.

“So, you can create all different kinds of assignments and the interfaces… have been redesigned,” Ladd said. “Because it isn’t iCloud, it’s all stored in the server. So teachers can create things wherever they want, access this data anywhere, and then assign it to specific students… It also records the students’ work. It saves that too, so you can see your grades and then teachers can see that.”

Ladd plans on pursuing app development in the future, and plans to expand Synapsia’s growth.

“To me, app development means designing a product that will enhance the lives of the people that use it through the experiences they have with it,” Ladd said.

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