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Using MIT App Inventor in an Emergency Management Course to Promote Computational Thinking

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Computers in Education General Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1336.1 - 24.1336.10



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Paper Authors


HuiRu Shih P.E. Jackson State University

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Dr. HuiRu (H.R.) Shih is a Professor of Technology at Jackson State University (JSU). He received his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri. Dr. Shih is a registered professional engineer in the state of Mississippi.

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Jacqueline M Jackson Jackson State University

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Cassandra L Hawkins Wilson Jackson State University


Pao-Chiang Yuan Jackson State University

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Dr. Yuan received his Ph. D in Civil Engineering (Environmental/Water Resources Engineering) from Oklahoma State University in 1986. He has published 60+ abstracts and articles in journals and contributed chapters to four books. Dr. Yuan continues to serve as peer reviewer for state, private grant programs and different professional journals and magazines. He is the board member of USEPA Monitoring Group, Gulf of Mexico Program. He is also council member of Mississippi Citizen Crops, Mississippi Office of Homeland Security. Dr. Yuan is the recipient, 2002 Outstanding Mentor of the Year, The Alliance for Graduate Education in Mississippi. 2004 recipient of Recycler of the year, presented by Mississippi Recycling Coalition. Professor Yuan is the JSU/Hinds County/MDEQ Computer Recycling Program director and principle investigator, the program start from year of 2000 until now. The program received totally seven awards, the major one is USEPA Waste-Wise Program, partner of the year in 2004. Dr. Yuan received USEPA research grant research on Health Impact Study in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in East Biloxi Mississippi. Dr. Yuan received grant from US Department of Homeland Security to develop undergraduate program for Emergency Management(2010,2011) and also received grant from for training community emergency response team from Mississippi office of homeland security. Dr. Yuan’s research has focus on promoting reducing the electronic waste in the waste stream, indoor air pollution, GIS application, groundwater modeling and emergency management. He is selected by Association of Technology Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) as outstanding professor of the year 2009. Dr. Yuan is the loyal member of ATMAE, Certified Senior Industrial Technologist (CSIT) and Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM). Dr. Yuan served as an editor of International Journal of Environmental Engineering. He was president of Oversea Chinese Environmental Science and Engineering Association (2007).

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Mobile Apps for Emergency ManagementThe trend of declining student interest in computer-related fields, combined with increaseddemand from the industry, challenges instructors to come up with new methodologies to attractstudents. Furthermore, with the diffusion of information technologies into almost all disciplinesof study, introductory computer courses need to have new approaches that can motivate students(both computer-related majors and non-majors) to feel comfortable with the computing conceptsand tools.At Jackson State University (JSU), one course module has been developed and integrated into anexisting “Emergency Management Technology” course. This course module is part of aproject, Computational Thinking as an Approach to Refining the Critical Thinking andAnalytical Reasoning Skills of Undergraduates, sponsored by the National Science Foundation(NSF). The goal of the project is to develop new courses and course modules to broadenparticipation in computing and computer science.This course module is designed to use MIT App Inventor to introduce app development concepts.MIT App Inventor is a drag and drop programming tool that enables users to create applicationsfor Android devices. MIT App Inventor makes mobile app development highly visual and highlyintuitive. It provides an easy way to build fully functional apps. This course module involvedthree (3) faculty members. Faculty from several different departments (Computer Science,English, and Technology) developed teaching materials for the module.Emergencies often occur with little or no warning. Emergency management is the discipline ofdealing with and avoiding both manmade and natural disasters. The mobile devices have becomevaluable tools for emergency response. Students are required to design a mobile applicationwhich can use be used before, during, and/or after an emergency. Students also have been askedto provide feedback by completing a survey.Through this course, students have opportunities to explore the exciting world of computerscience from the perspective of mobile computing. MIT App Inventor can engage students indeveloping not only fun and useful apps, but also in logical thinking, problem solving skills, andcreativity. The students found MIT App Inventor to be very accessible and quickly learned howto develop their own apps. MIT App Inventor can allow students without any background ininformation technology to see computing concepts in a context that is of great interest to them.

Shih, H., & Jackson, J. M., & Hawkins Wilson, C. L., & Yuan, P. (2014, June), Using MIT App Inventor in an Emergency Management Course to Promote Computational Thinking Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23269

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