By Margaret King
Studying iOS Programming through online Futures classes
from UC San Diego Extension has been such a great experience for Maya Rosenbaum that she has decided to spend part of her summer helping other students learn the same coding skills.
Maya, who will be a junior this fall at Canyon Crest Academy in Carmel Valley, has volunteered to help out in iOS Programming
classes at this summer’s Sally Ride Science Junior Academy
, which is being held online.
“I love working with other people and teaching them skills that I have,” she says. “I thought it would be fun to help teach others programming like I’ve learned.”
Maya has just finished a nine-month series of iOS Programming classes through Futures, a program that lets high school students acquire high-demand career skills while earning Extension credits. Futures offers both online and in-person classes, although in-person classes currently have moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Courses are grouped under headings like Program Your Future
for coding and Manage Your Future
for business management. Scholarships are available to cover course costs.
Maya decided on iOS Programming because she was interested in app development and eager to learn Swift, the language used to program Apple devices. She chose an online class series for its flexibility. “I really liked that I could go at my own pace,” she says. “I’m a very busy person, so I like to do things in pockets of time that I find.”
She says the level of difficulty has been perfect for her. “I like a challenge,” she says. “I like having to actually work through problems and debug my code.”
The instructor for Maya’s Futures classes was Wallace Wang, an expert who has written dozens of books on computer technology. Even though the classes are online, Maya found that she could count on Wang if she got stuck on an assignment. “It was really easy to email him and get help whenever I needed it,” she says.
When Maya learned that Wang would be teaching iOS Programming classes for high school students at Sally Ride Science Junior Academy, she volunteered to put her new skills to work as an intern in his classroom. The Junior Academy, which begins June 29, offers a wide variety of STEAM classes for students entering grades 4-12.
After the Junior Academy moved online, with a combination of live Zoom sessions and individual activities, Maya agreed to lend a hand remotely instead. “When students need help with their programming, I can set up a Zoom meeting,” she says.
She was able to apply her programming skills as part of her project to earn her Gold Award in Girl Scouts. Maya wanted to address teen mental health, so she decided to do her project on gratitude journaling, a practice that encourages people to focus on the positive by keeping a diary of things they are grateful for.
Gratitude journaling has many benefits
for teens, but there’s also a challenge. “It’s difficult to get people my age to do something like this every day,” Maya says. To motivate her peers, she used MIT App Inventor to create an app that presents gratitude journaling in game form, with rewards for writing regular entries. Her app is now available on the Google Play Store.
Going forward, Maya hopes to develop apps to help people organize their time and stay productive. “I love using apps for productivity, like writing schedules for completing schoolwork,” she says. “I want to use my creativity to make apps that will allow people to keep everything in one place, on their phones.”
It’s crucial for Maya to organize her own time because she’s involved in so many activities. She’s a serious musician who plays viola in Canyon Crest Academy’s orchestra and in the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra. She also helped start an ensemble called Ember String Quartet.
In addition to playing classical music, she writes indie pop songs, sings, and plays piano, guitar and bass. In fact, she has started a media company called Pappaya to encompass her various creations, including digital recordings and apps.
Maya’s internship at the Junior Academy isn’t her only volunteer gig. She helps guide a youth rock band through Youth Arts Academy at the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Dieguito. In past summers she has volunteered as a camp counselor.
After high school, Maya plans to study computer science. She is eyeing West Coast colleges including UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara, as well as Stanford and Caltech.
She has a career path in mind: “Ideally I would love to go into video game development.” She’s particularly interested in games that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. “The programming allows for an endless amount of options within a game,” she notes.
Maya believes Futures classes have helped prepare her for success in college and beyond. “Having this experience is going to help me get into computer science and move through it easily,” she says.
She would recommend Futures iOS Programming to other students, although they might want to start with some more basic classes. “I don’t think this is a class that allows beginners to go through it that easily,” she says. “But people with some programming experience can do well in this class and learn a lot from it.”