Students explore and investigate what makes an app an app. They begin by looking at and discussing several different apps. Following this, students watch a video explaining the basics of how computers work. Finally students return to the apps and consider the various inputs and outputs.


Students will be able to:


This lesson is an introduction to a unit that introduces programming through the broader context of designing apps that help people. This lesson is designed to build excitement about the skills that students will develop throughout the unit and get them thinking early about the ways programming can help others. This lesson also establishes shared vocabulary for talking about apps in a generic sense, for example its inputs, outputs, and overall user interface.


Getting Started


Prompt: What are apps? How do we interact with them? What kinds of things do apps do?

Discussion Goal

Apps are designed to solve a problem by providing a service

Apps have screens or User Interfaces to display and collect information to and from users


App Exploration

For today's activity, students will explore a number of apps which can be found in the CSP-Widgets Repository. Each app is a Quorum Studio project in the "Unit 3" folder. For full instructions on downloading and running the apps, including downloading the Quorum Studio environment, see the Getting Started with CSP Widgets help page.

Group: Organize students in groups of two. Students should open the apps used for this lesson, starting with "Lesson1_App1".

Teaching Tip: There are several different sample apps. Depending on time, students might not explore all of them right now.

During this activity, make sure students are running and exploring the apps and not focusing on the code. Students will have opportunities to inspect and work with code in later lessons.

Prompt: With a partner, discuss the following and note down in your journal:

Share Out: As a class, discuss student answers to the discussion questions.

Discussion Goal

App #1: Water Conservation TipsApp #2: Bird QuizApp #3: Hamilton Township


Input & Output

Display: Show How Computers Work - What Makes a Computer, a Computer - Video


App Investigation

Do This: With your partner, take another look at the sample apps you explored before. Consider what the inputs and outputs are for the apps. Note these down in your journal.

Teaching Tip: After students are finished writing in their journals, discuss as a class or collect the journals to review student answers.

Wrap Up


Prompt: Think of your favorite app. Discuss with a partner what the user interface looks like and the inputs and outputs.

Discussion Goal: After students have shared with a partner, bring the class back together and discuss a few examples.

Journal: Add to your journal the following terms along with your own definitions:

Assessment: Check for Understanding

Question: Match each term from the definition list to an entry in the example list:


  1. Input
  2. Output
  3. User Interface


  1. A song is played
  2. The user clicks a button
  3. A screen with buttons, images, and text

Standards Alignment