Four Chagrin Falls High School students Danielle Currey, Annie DeBernardo, Milly Mason, and Grace Hass-Hill entered the Verizon App Challenge to create an idea for an app solution and create a video to explain the concept. “Coincidentally, the same week we decided to enter the contest, the movie “Code Girl” (which is about the Technovation App Challenge) came out for free on YouTube, so we decided to watch it,” said Currey.
“After being inspired by the apps created by the girls in the documentary, we made a list of problems in our community and apps that could fix them. Our ideas spanned everything from apps that help alleviate stress and create inspiration to apps that annotate for you. We narrowed it down to two ideas: the positivity app or a coding app.” After discussing with Mrs. Carolyn Petite, the girls’ computer science teacher, they decided on the coding app.
Their app, which they named byteSize, introduces students (or anyone who wants to learn to code) to programming. “The most unique part of our app, however, is a stream for ideas and questions so that more advanced users can help those just starting,” said Currey. “We also would have a live feed of trending programs, set up just like social media apps that kids are comfortable using. For this reason, our app is mainly targeted at students. Although we are fortunate have a fantastic Computer Science program at Chagrin Falls, many schools do not have Computer Science programs despite the increased use of technology in society. Our app, byteSize, would help students without programs at their schools become interested in and comfortable with code from a young age.”
The students started the app concept in late October and finished their video and essays in mid November. They also entered a second contest, the Congressional Challenge, and have designed a different app for that challenge.
Being inspired to share their passion for coding with younger students and the opportunity to impact the lives of future coders, the team created a Coding Club at Gurney Elementary, focused on a group of 22 third graders who will be able to spend 10 days after school learning to code. Using the Sphero app, they plan to have students use block-based coding to change colors and drive the Spheros.
They are still brainstorming ideas, but some activities they plan on including are bowling (with the Spheros), mazes, and “mini golf.” In addition to the four student leaders of the group, they will have many high school volunteers, so that each group of students can have personalized attention and help along the way.