Devonport High School for Boys' Thinkspace backed
- 19 September 2013
- From the section Devon
What connects computer giant Apple's co-founder, the boss of social network Twitter and the founder of Wikipedia?
They have all given their support to three Plymouth boys and their vision for teaching the next generation of computer software engineers.
It is lunchtime and the sound of excited chatter fills the hallway as a queue of about 40 students gather outside a classroom at Devonport High School for Boys.
They are waiting for Thinkspace to open and the chance to become computer app creators.
Becoming an app creator or "appreneur" in the internet jargon, is so popular that lunchtime sessions are always packed.
Thinkspace is the physical space at the school, with banks of computers for drop-in sessions.
But, it is also a website, with tips on coding, links to sources and even a social network so students from around the world can also take part.
'Model of learning'
And just two weeks after launch, Thinkspace has generated interest from schools in America, Singapore and Israel.
Thinkspace's co-founder James Anderson, 16, has already created a number of successful apps and has earned enough to pay most of his university fees.
He started developing the Thinkspace idea after creating an app for pupils at the school, iDHSB, which helps students, staff and parents communicate, download, interact and generally keep up-to-date with daily school life.
"Then we started talking about a genius bar for advice and support on using Apple devices," he said.
"It has evolved into helping teach students about making the apps of tomorrow."
Kamran Malik, 16, is responsible for global development and Oliver Bredemeyer, 14, for the social network on Thinkspace.
But to make their jobs easier, Thinkspace has received messages of support from Apple's Steve Wozniak, Twitter's Dick Costolo and Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales as well as comedian Stephen Fry.
The school and parents have chipped in £10,000 towards computers at the Thinkspace area, along with comfy chairs for exhausted young coders.
Deputy head teacher Steve Margetts, said: "For me it is a great investment - a wonderful model of learning with students taking responsibility for their own learning.
"They are uplifting themselves to become more employable."
Thinkspace students have already created a revision app and a computer game.
James, who has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter, said: "It is a fantastic space and it's encouraging all these young people to get started.
"A lot of people have described it as being the next Google campus."
All the boys' spare time at school, as well as much of it outside, has been consumed by Thinkspace.
"We could be looking at students creating the next Twitter or Facebook, it's that big," said James.
"We are encouraging students to make real things, real products that can be in the hands of millions of people."