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April 13, 2012

Innovation and education by Dominic Langmead

Today on Nokia Connects we look at a community project that got its kick-start on the 25th of March, as Air Cadets from 1074 (Ellesmere Port) Air Training Corps learned the basics of computer & mobile application programming and development.

Lead by Civilian Instructor Dominic Langmead, a student at the University of Chester and Microsoft Student Partner, the 10 or so cadets were taught how to create simple applications in Microsoft’s Small Basic – a good introductory tool to the concept of programming and problem solving with gradual progression to the Windows Phone 7 platform.

Armed with personal laptops and phones kindly provided by both Nokia and the University of Chester cadets learned the power of design and code together and how to create content rich applications with no previous experience, but perhaps most importantly they learned just how easy it is to graduate from Small Basic to the Windows Phone API.

The 4 hour session started with the basics – an introduction to variables, user input, making decisions with conditional branching and processing data with loops. This progressed to an introduction to arrays and the Small Basic Turtle where cadets spent 30 minutes on their own creating shapes whilst reinforcing what they had just been taught.

Following on from this the cadets then started to create their first Windows Phone Application – a simple calculator firstly to get to grips with the user interface & to see how data interacts and flows in Visual Studio 2010.

The cadets left the introductory session thinking of future applications for the Windows Phone marketplace which included a First Aid how-to reminder for those tricky situations, an online copy of their record of activities, an app describing squadron activities, parade nights and news, and an app for the corps in general.

Apart from learning how to solve problems the cadets learned the power of peer learning by helping each other out and working together to solve challenges against the clock. Some cadets extended their work and demonstrated ideas to others who were struggling.

It is believed that this is the first session ever to run within the framework of the Air Training Corps and is something that the staff at 1074 (Ellesmere Port) Squadron are keen to offer to surrounding squadrons.

There are plans to extend the sessions into the local community over the coming months and to form a club for everyone in Ellesmere Port and surrounding areas to participate in for all age ranges including school pupils and the retired who want something different to do in an afternoon.

Anyone wishing to know more or to get involved should contact Dominic in the first instance, you can also reach him on Twitter too.