He might not be ready to submit a college application, but Thomas Suarez of Manhattan Beach, California is already releasing apps for iOS devices. The sixth grader recently gave a talk at TEDxManhattanBeach in which he discussed his love of computers (he got into them in kindergarten), his plans for the future, and the inspiration he got from the late Steve Jobs.
Suarez has released several apps on the Apple App Store since launching his first, a fortune-telling title called Earth Fortune, in late 2010. His most popular app has been Bustin Jieber, a Whack-a-Mole style game where players squish the disembodied head of Justin Bieber. "I created it because a lot of people at school disliked Justin Bieber a little bit," he told the TEDx crowd.
After teaching himself programming basics in Python, C, and Java, Suarez says he took up Apple's SDK and Xcode. These tools are the heart and soul of the entire App Store catalog, and while there are a wealth of tutorials around the web, learning the ins and outs of app programming can be a challenge even for seasoned developers. Suarez makes it sound easy, and his apps — while simple and straightforward — are popular enough to make him a success story.
"I've gotten a lot of inspiration from Steve Jobs," he says. Inspired, he started an App Club at his school, because "not many kids know where to go to find out how to make a program." As he sees it, "for soccer, you could go to a soccer team, and for violin, you could get a lesson from a violinist." But even parents might not be a resource, since as he rightly points out, "not many of them have written apps."
The club is working with its teacher sponsor to create iPad apps for education, which will eventually be distributed to local school districts free of charge, and sold to others. Oh, and he's even created his own company, CarrotCorp. It sounds like Suarez picked up a little entrepreneurial spirit from Jobs, as well.
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