Picture by David Beatson

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Local Boy Designs #1 App in Library

Utah Wonder Boy Writes Killer App in Library

By Lauren Barack February 3, 2011

At the ripe age of 14, Robert Nay has turned his library card into a ticket to computer fame, crafting Bubble Ball—an iPhone game that morphed into a number one free iTunes app in January.
nay(Original Import)
Robert Nay developed a killer app in the library.
While visiting the library to research a school paper is often the sign of a strong student, using the library to research and then write an amazingly popular physics game on iTunes is a bit more unusual. And yet the Utah wonder boy parlayed his afterschool studies at the Spanish Fork Public Library into something more experienced programmers only dream of creating, even knocking the hit iTunes game Angry Birds from its perch.
The app, which debuted December 29, 2010, involves a series of puzzles in which players must guide a ball through courses that they manipulate. Bubble Ball was downloaded a million times in its first two weeks.
"I don't think we consciously realized the extent of what he was working on," says Pam Jackson, Spanish Fork's library director. "But we're grateful as it shows to officials and people that libraries do matter."
Nay checked out how-to books on building iPhone apps and computer programming from the library's collection, even downloading the iPhone software development kit (SDK) and the Corona SDK, an app
spanishfork(Original Import)
Utah's Spanish Fork Library, where Nay did his research.
development kit, from the library's own computers.
Nay is no stranger to the library. He started visiting as a preschooler when his mother, Kari Nay, would check out picture books to read to her son. Nay would also attend reading and arts programs that the library held during the summers, says Kari, who also volunteers running free classes on scholarship applications and ACT preparation.
Jackson says she wishes she could hold more programs for students, but notes that the library has been hampered by financial crunches just like library systems all over the nation.
"We wish we had more programming rooms, more shelf space and more Internet access for the community's needs," she says. "But we can't because of the economy."
Both Nay and his mother are remaining silent about what's up next for this eighth grader, but she says he does plan to attend college and perhaps pursue Web design or computer programming. Mark Zuckerberg may want to pay attention.

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