Summer camp for the app generation

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It’s summer camp for budding app makers.

Thirty high school students from 17 area schools gathered at MIT on Wednesday and Thursday for a two-day cram session on the art of making mobile apps.

They are part of the Samsung Mobile App Academies that are taking place across the country this summer to teach kids about technology (and promote Samsung products). At the end of the sessions, participants can enter a contest for the best app idea and win as much as $20,000 in scholarship money.

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The workshops are meant to get teens — many of whom are already obsessed with technology — interested in pursuing technology in college or as a career.

Participants worked on scenarios for how to design shopping, health care, sport, and education apps, and quickly discovered that even the most basic mobile applications can be deceivingly complex.

“I just thought you had an idea and then made an app. It’s not like that at all,” said Diego Bazan, a 17-year-old Revere High School student.

He was part of a group of students that were working on the design of a shopping app. “My grandmother loves to shop but she can’t use an iPhone. It’s got to be simple.”

The teenage designers are doing in a few days what professional app makers can spend months trying to accomplish, said Nomi Kaplan, one of the instructors for the academy. “Cramming this into two days is pretty difficult.”

Still, she said, “I hope they see the opportunities in this industry.”

But the students didn’t just show up for a lesson in the elements of programming for mobile devices. They’ll also take home a free Samsung Galaxy tablet.

Few summer camps offer that kind of swag.