Seven High Schools in Illinois Bring Programming into the Classroom, STEM Curriculum

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Illinois teachers receive training in iOS programming; 500 high school students to learn coding by end of school year.

Introducing students to mobile software development early on brings relevance to the classroom and ensures our students are competitive in higher education and the workplace.

School districts in two Chicago suburbs have partnered with Mobile Makers Academy to add software development and coding classes into their STEM curricula.

Barrington 220 School District (Barrington, Ill.) and High School District 214 (Arlington Heights, Ill.) are the first districts to pilot Mobile Makers Academy's high school coding program, Mobile Makers for Schools, which launched at the start of the 2014–2015 academic term.

There will be approximately 125 students taking the class at Barrington High School this school year. More than 375 students in approximately 17 classes across District 214 are expected to participate.

Over the course of 32 weeks in seven high schools, students will receive 130 hours of in-class coding instruction. High school students will learn iOS programming to build working mobile applications that use fundamental User Interface skills, and Agile project management skills. By the end of the year, the students will have built several basic mobile apps and learned some of the same project management tools used in professional development shops.

“One significant challenge for schools is finding teachers who have experience coding,” said Lazaro Lopez, associate superintendent of High School District 214. “Introducing students to mobile software development early on brings relevance to the classroom and ensures our students are competitive in higher education and the workplace.”

The six schools in High School District 214 include:
Buffalo Grove High School
Elk Grove High School
Wheeling High School
John Hersey High School
Rolling Meadows High School
Prospect High School

The one school in Barrington 220 is:
Barrington High School

In order to prepare the school districts for in-class coding instruction, Mobile Makers Academy created Mobile Makers for Schools, a special training program designed for high school instructors. Mobile Makers Academy is a coding school that prepares beginners for a career in mobile app development.

Similar to Mobile Makers’ eight-week bootcamp for Apple mobile apps, the teacher-training component of Mobile Makers for Schools includes learning the fundamentals of mobile app development and how to build apps of increasing complexity. The teachers learned the academy’s core topics and completed specialized study in Agile development and Swift, Apple’s newest coding language. By the end of their training, the teachers created a gradebook app in which the user can enter students’ grades. In total, nine teachers have taken the course.

In addition, Mobile Makers for Schools offers the high schools a fully developed student curriculum as well as curriculum support throughout the school year. The dedicated support will include both in-person and online assistance, with regular check-ins to monitor student and teacher progress.

“While teachers can learn to code on their own, we believe that bringing them into a focused training environment lets them experience the learning process first-hand,” said Brandon Passley, co-founder and CEO of Mobile Makers. “Programming and coding were once obscure topics only for developers, but now these fields of study are becoming more accessible for everyone to learn. Our role is to make sure schools have the tools and the backing of expert practitioners to make it teachable.”

The learn-to-code movement has gained momentum in school districts across the country and abroad. Educators and school administrators are joining an international trend to teach kids coding and other computer skills.

“It’s exciting that the District has embraced this new opportunity for students to learn coding. They look forward to learning Apple's new programming language. I hope this leaves them wanting more in our four-year sequence of computer science class offerings,” said Kristen Fisher, a computer science teacher at Elk Grove High School who completed the Mobile Makers training. “Our students are learning how to be creative, solve complex problems and use critical thinking through a technical framework. We are creating a tangible way to expand STEM education.”

To learn more about the high school coding program, visit

About Mobile Makers Academy
Mobile Makers Academy offers an 8-week, full-time iOS bootcamp that prepares people to be mobile developers, teaching them how to make iPhone and iPad apps. The program simulates a professional application-development environment with independent and team-based coding, guided by expert developers. Unlike other similar courses, Mobile Makers offers intensive personal instruction, practice technical interviews, a private job board and resources for alumni to continue enhancing their skills and portfolio. With both online and on-site programs, the academy, headquartered in Chicago, attracts applicants from across the U.S. as well as from Mexico, Canada, India, the United Kingdom, Venezuela and New Zealand. For more information, visit

About Barrington 220 School District
Barrington 220 School District strives to provide an exemplary education that inspires all students to achieve excellence. We educate more than 9,000 students across the district’s 72-square-mile radius from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Barrington 220 has one high school, two middle schools, eight elementary schools and one early childhood center. Barrington High School has been included among the top 1000 high schools in the nation by Newsweek and the district has consistently ranked among the state’s top 5 percent of school districts academically. Barrington 220 has received the “Bright Red Apple” award from School Search for overall excellence, “What Parents Want” award from School Match, a AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s and the highest financial rating from the State of Illinois.

About High School District 214
As educators in High School District 214, we believe it’s our responsibility to encourage every student to explore academic and co-curricular opportunities that will inspire them to find their passion and reach their potential. High School District 214 is the second-largest high school district in Illinois, serving more than 12,000 students from eight communities. Our nationally recognized district includes six comprehensive high schools and four alternative programs, offering more than 600 academic courses and 140 co-curricular opportunities. Our students come from diverse backgrounds, with more than 67 languages spoken in their homes. A little more than a quarter of our students identify as low-income, and we have one majority-minority school in our District. Our community education program is one of the nation’s largest, serving more than 50,000 lifelong learners with more than 500 classes in six program areas.

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Thom Duncan

Aaron Mays
Mobile Makers Academy
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