A Glimpse of Your Future Workforce – Now in Middle School

May 7, 2012

Six months ago Thomas Suarez, a 6th grader from Los Angeles, spoke at a TEDS event about the making and sale of an “app”  he created on his own – “Bustin Jieber” (a whack-a-mole type anti-Justin-Bieber game.)  (There’s nearly 2 million views of the video on YouTube so you may have seen it.) Anyway, he’s quite eloquent and now owns his own company. While he’s clearly much further ahead than the majority of 6th graders I know, his actions offer a glimpse of our future workforce.

Suarez, who is self taught, started to build, create and sell his own apps and even created a club for fellow students where he shares what he knows about programming.  He thinks “students are a valuable new technology resource to teachers, and should be empowered to offer assistance in developing the technology curriculum and also assist in delivering the lessons.”

Amen. He’s taught himself Python, Java, and C “just to get the basics down” according to his bio.This DIY mentality is why online learning from CodeAcademy and Kahn Academy, are so popular.

Here’s his talk:

I had a glimpse of that kind of thing in my house two weeks ago. My son is a gamer. His current game of choice is Call of Duty (COD). He plays LIVE with various friends. He decided he wanted to record the game play so he Googled it (“How to…”) and ended up finding something called  Dazzle (about $50 US), a video capture device.

He asked ‘guilted’ me into buying it for him as repayment for the iPod Touch I accidentally dropped, cracking the screen. (He said since a lot of people have small cracks in their screen, he’d rather I not pay to get it fixed but instead buy this Dazzle thingy. This is extortion mixed with love and guilt.) So off we went to BestBuy  and, as it turned out, Radio Shack after that for the right connectors which we couldn’t find at BestBuy. (Dazzle is not created for the purpose of recording XBox play…it just does but you need to add some cords.) Oh, and we went to Wendy’s too. Why not make a day of it?

Back from the road trip….so my son often helps his friends out when they are first learning to play (they help each other) so he thought he’d record a tutorial. I’m not making this up.

Using Dazzle’s software, he couldn’t figure out why the audio control was grayed out (I suspect it had something to do with the default setting on the computer) and since I didn’t want to stop watching the Stanley Cup playoffs to mess with this audio glitch, I told him to look at Audacity (open source audio recording).

Unassisted (except for the Audacity tip), he recorded the audio, saved it as a file type he could import (because I later asked and learned Audacity saves with a AUP file type...so he figured that out) , narrated his video recording, set up his own YouTube channel and uploaded it. All in the  course of an evening…basically unassisted. He’s 13! Amazing since a few folks in the industry (no one reading this of course : ) still say “http what?”

So…later that night, I was watching some lame Stanley Cup Western division playoff game that was boring so I looked up his channel on the iPad and watched what he did. Did I tell you he is in middle school! Yes, these kids are our future workforce. Neither Suarez nor my son would have learned this in school. There’s no app class. There’s no live online collaboration and video recording class (and least in our school district in NY State).

Do you have a similar story?

(As an aside…I know there are people who would not let a 13 year old play a game rated “M” -whether live or not – but my personal approach is one of involvement  – Why is the game “M”? Is he mature enough? Do I know who he is playing with? Do I monitor that? Have guidelines and expectations been set along with what will happen if those are disregarded? Am I prepared to recognize the signs that the game is having a negative effect? Is he getting enough physical activity to stay healthy?, etc. The research is mixed on video games, especially violent games.)


  • http://twitter.com/NinjaskillzCA Ninja-Skillz.com

    My 14 year old son in Middle School told me the other night at dinner that he had to do a project on fluid dynamics in science and so he thought he’d “build a little model of a ship” — what he did was modeled the ship he’d seen in the Dominican (off the coast of Punta Cana)  with Google shapes – in 3D. 

  • http://janetclarey.com/ jclarey


  • http://www.speelgoedtoestel.nl/speeltoestellen speeltoestellen

    This young boy is really impressive. At his very young age, he was able to make his own application which is really one of the tough jobs today. 

  • http://www.gok-kasten.net/ spelletjes

    I couldn’t imagine how this kid able to create that app. He is really genius that with his age, he had created such new app.  

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