Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Making of an App Starts with a Passion

by Jessica Gerwin, Drake HS 

On September 25th, 2013, multimedia producer David Fox spoke to an audience of over 50 enthusiastic and curious individuals about his love for Rube Goldberg machines. Rube Goldberg, as defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary is a comically involved, complicated invention, laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation. It is easy to compare the concept of a Rube Goldberg machine to the popular 60’s board game, “Mouse Trap”.

Mouse Trap, a popular board game of the 60's was inspired by Rube Goldberg machines. The game involves setting up an array of objects in order to trap a plastic mouse.


Rube Goldberg himself is a famous cartoonist from San Francisco whose drawings focus on quirky combinations of gadgets that perform simple tasks in convoluted ways. The series of these “inventions” led Goldberg to become a founding member of the National Cartoonist Society and a Pulitzer Prize winner. Goldberg's unique style and sense of humor made him a beloved national figure who created a large cultural impact. Goldberg’s sense of humor is well emulated in the popular YouTube video called “The Page Turner” by Joseph Herscher. To take a further look into these machines, watch the video by clicking here.

Likewise, David wishes to emulate Goldberg’s intricate and whimsical style into his game. David introduced the app that he in conjunction with Electric Eggplant and Kalani games are in the process of creating. While the name of the app has changed from Casey’s Contraptions to another not yet known, the premise of the game remains the same. The mission of each level in the game is to set up an assortment of contraptions to carry out a simple task such as popping a balloon or filling a glass of orange juice.

However, the process that it takes to animate a scene like that is more intricate than the level that they are working on. The process of programming a level is a long and difficult one. Each level requires planning, drawing, programming, and graphics skills.

While programming can be very difficult, it is not an unattainable thing to do. Programming apps does take some specific knowledge and skills that can be learned if you want to. The earlier you learn about programming, the easier it becomes.  There are plenty online and offline resources that exist to help you learn about programming.

For instance, code.org is a website that refers you to free programs that teach you how to code. The site recommends websites such as Code Academy, Khan Academy and Code HS. All of which are great resources to help you get started. Many representatives of the site stress the importance of being able to code in the YouTube video here.

Creating apps are part of the “T” in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and is a creative way to entertain, teach, make money and more. The limitations for your own creativity is boundless.  The best way to start is to find something in which you are passionate about.  The STEM field is full of examples of many passions like David Fox's. 

To learn more about the STEM fields, check out our next seminar on October 16th featuring Julie Pettijohn speaking on “Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Work” about how Public Health research and policy keeps us healthy and improves our lives. The event will take place at Terra Linda High School at 7:30 pm. To download the Fall flyer, click here.

Sources Cited:
  • "Rube Goldberg : Home of the Official Rube Goldberg Machine Contests." 
  • Rube Goldberg. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. <http://www.rubegoldberg.com/>.
  • "Rube Goldberg." 
  • Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rube_Goldberg>.
  • Caplan, Lisa. "The App Store's IPad Game Of The Week: Casey's Contraptions."AppAdvice RSS. App Advice, 22 May 2011. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. <http://appadvice.com/appnn/2011/05/app-stores-ipad-game-week-caseys-contraptions>.
  • "Code.org." Code. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. <http://code.org/>.
-Jessica Gerwin

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