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TEDxManhattanBeach

Thomas Suarez: A 12-year-old app developer

October 22, 2011

Most 12-year-olds love playing videogames -- Thomas Suarez taught himself how to create them. After developing iPhone apps like "Bustin Jeiber," a whack-a-mole game, he is now using his skills to help other kids become developers. (Filmed at TEDxManhattanBeach.)

Thomas Suarez - Developer, 12 year old
Thomas Suarez, a 12 year old, taught himself to build iphone apps. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
I've always had a fascination for computers and technology,
00:15
and I made a few apps for the iPhone,
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iPod Touch, and iPad.
00:21
I'd like to share a couple with you today.
00:23
My first app was a unique fortune teller called Earth Fortune
00:25
that would display different colors of earth
00:30
depending on what your fortune was.
00:32
My favorite and most successful app is
00:35
Bustin Jieber, which is — (Laughter) —
00:38
which is a Justin Bieber Whac-A-Mole.
00:42
I created it because a lot of people at school
00:45
disliked Justin Bieber a little bit,
00:49
so I decided to make the app.
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So I went to work programming it,
00:55
and I released it just before the holidays in 2010.
00:57
A lot of people ask me, how did I make these?
01:01
A lot of times it's because the person who asked
01:05
the question wants to make an app also.
01:08
A lot of kids these days like to play games,
01:10
but now they want to make them,
01:13
and it's difficult,
01:15
because not many kids know where to go
01:17
to find out how to make a program.
01:20
I mean, for soccer, you could go to a soccer team.
01:22
For violin, you could get lessons for a violin.
01:24
But what if you want to make an app?
01:27
And their parents, the kid's parents might have done
01:29
some of these things when they were young,
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but not many parents have written apps. (Laughter)
01:34
Where do you go to find out how to make an app?
01:37
Well, this is how I approached it. This is what I did.
01:40
First of all, I've been programming in multiple
01:43
other programming languages to get the basics down,
01:46
such as Python, C, Java, etc.
01:50
And then Apple released the iPhone,
01:54
and with it, the iPhone software development kit,
01:57
and the software development kit is a suite of tools
02:00
for creating and programming an iPhone app.
02:03
This opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me,
02:08
and after playing with the software development kit
02:11
a little bit, I made a couple apps, I made some test apps.
02:14
One of them happened to be Earth Fortune, and I was
02:17
ready to put Earth Fortune on the App Store,
02:20
and so I persuaded my parents to pay the 99 dollar fee
02:23
to be able to put my apps on the App Store.
02:27
They agreed, and now I have apps on the App Store.
02:30
I've gotten a lot of interest and encouragement
02:34
from my family, friends, teachers
02:37
and even people at the Apple Store,
02:39
and that's been a huge help to me.
02:41
I've gotten a lot of inspiration from Steve Jobs,
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and I've started an app club at school, and a teacher
02:47
at my school is kindly sponsoring my app club.
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Any student at my school can come and
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learn how to design an app.
02:58
This is so I can share my experiences with others.
03:01
There's these programs called the iPad Pilot Program,
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and some districts have them.
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I'm fortunate enough to be part of one.
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A big challenge is, how should the iPads be used,
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and what apps should we put on the iPads?
03:19
So we're getting feedback from teachers at the school
03:23
to see what kind of apps they'd like.
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When we design the app and we sell it,
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it will be free to local districts and other districts
03:31
that we sell to, all the money from that will go into
03:35
the local ed foundations.
03:39
These days, students usually know a little bit more
03:42
than teachers with the technology. (Laughter)
03:46
So -- (Laughter) --
03:53
sorry -- (Laughter) --
03:58
so this is a resource to teachers, and educators
04:02
should recognize this resource and make good use of it.
04:05
I'd like to finish up by saying what I'd like to do in the future.
04:09
First of all, I'd like to create more apps, more games.
04:15
I'm working with a third party company to make an app.
04:20
I'd like to get into Android programming and development,
04:24
and I'd like to continue my app club,
04:27
and find other ways for students
04:30
to share knowledge with others. Thank you. (Applause)
04:32
Translator:Joseph Geni
Reviewer:Thu-Huong Ha

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Thomas Suarez - Developer, 12 year old
Thomas Suarez, a 12 year old, taught himself to build iphone apps.

Why you should listen

Thomas Suarez's interest in technology and programming led him to learn Python, Java, and C “just to get the basics down.” He built an app and then coaxed his parents into paying the $99 fee to get his app, Earth Fortune, in the app store. Thomas also started an app club at school to help other kids build and share their creations, and is now starting his own company, CarrotCorp.

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The developer's blog is here.