Local App Developer Wows 3rd Graders

Originally in the Dubois County Herald


The hand of every third-grader at Precious Blood School shot in the air Tuesday as speaker Mike Park questioned them on who has heard of an iPhone or iPad. Many of those hands remained raised when asked if any of the youngsters in the class owned one of those items, with students chiming in with the names of their favorite applications.

It’s a situation that comes as no surprise to Park, owner of Indianapolis health care software company iSalus and, for the past three years, a developer of applications for the iPhone and iPad. The sheer number of those devices sold in the last few years is incredible, he said, and he expects tablet-style devices like iPads to replace PCs and laptops in the near future.

Park, who lives in Jasper and is also the father of Precious Blood third-grader Carson Park, visited the school Tuesday at the behest of teacher Chris Hinkle to talk about his work. “You hear about people on the news (developing apps), but to have a parent actually doing it was just mind-boggling to me,” Hinkle said of why she asked Park to speak.

Park, who develops health care-related applications as part of his day job while also creating just-for-fun ones as a hobby with his 15-year-old son, Griffin, spoke to the 36 thirdgraders about what goes into the making of an application.

“I make apps for enjoyment for me personally because it’s fun to do,” he told the class. “I just enjoyed doing it so I made it a part of my daily life.”

Park talked about learning programming languages — “it’s like learning a foreign language like Spanish” — and the importance of math for a developer. He also showed off tools like a “particle emitter,” used for creating animated effects like lava or explosions, which prompted several “oohs and ahs” among the crowd.

Park has created 20 apps so far, the most popular of which is “LevelUp,” an application that helps video game players figure out how to make it to the next level of a game or to find cheat codes. Also among Park’s development credits are applications called “iFlatulator” and “Burpinator,” which make exactly the body noises you would expect from apps by those names. Those two in particular earned a reverent “You are awesome” from one of the boys in the class.

Several students, including Kadon Hurm, Chloe Rohlman and Nate Wagner, all said they enjoyed learning what goes into making a game, while Regan Mundy said her favorite part was seeing the different colors from the particle emitter. All seemed impressed when Park passed around an iPad with an application up that allowed them to “play” the piano by touching keys on the screen.

Park said his goal was not to try to convince any of the kids to be programmers, but to show them “all the things you get to do as part of your daily activities” if they choose that field.

He also hoped to stress the importance of education, especially math, in this career field — a goal Hinkle shared.

She said she hoped that students walk away with an understanding that “you need an education to do fun things you want to do in life.”

Contact Kasey Husk at khusk@dcherald.com

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