Mr. Tom Rogers and the students participating on the Southside Automated Machines (SAM) Team, received the Ibrahim Janajreh Young Innovator Program 2012 Award for their research, work and dedication to bringing Android Phone power to grades K-12.  The research that started out using Android phones as “brains” for controlling various robots, has   morphed into the much more sophisticated task of creating and designing applications for classroom use.

SAM Team Leader, and Southside High School AP Instructor, Tom Rogers explains, “the goal of the Android Smartphone Programming Project is to develop and migrate as many Android applications as possible for use in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and Computer  Science classrooms.  Smart phones are versatile and cost-effective pieces of technology, and Android is the world’s most widely used smartphone platform. Smartphones contain numerous sensors and devices, that would cost more than the price of the phone to purchase separately, in a convenient hand-held package. “

Last year, the SAM team started working  with the School of Computing at Clemson University, Dr. Brian Dean, and Dr. Dean’s PhD student, Matt Dabney.  Together, the group formed  the AndSAM Project.  AndSAM builds on the highly successful  foundation established  by the SAM program in motivating and educating pre-college students computing disciplines.  One of the project’s first accomplishments was to apply, and receive a 2012 Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Award.  The RISE Awards are designed to promote and support STEM and Computer Science education initiatives.  Award amounts range from $5,000 – $25,000 and are granted to organizations working with K-12 and university students world-wide.

The AndSAM Project was selected as one of 26 winners (out of 400 applications),  and the group earned a cash amount of $15,000  to create and evaluate mobile phone applications for use in classrooms, and to design a mobile phone programming summer camp.  The first Android Programming Camp was held in the summer of 2012, and students participated in GPS treasure hunts, performed voice modifications, made 3D photos, all with student programmed Android phones.

Southside High School’s SAM Team

When asked to describe the SAM Team and AndSAM Program, Rogers says, “We’ve given students a lot of opportunity to simply play with various pieces of technology, which is first and foremost what we’re about.  By playing with technology, the students learn about it and engage their imaginations”.