“It’s a lot of stress, but I like it,” said Peters, as the team began work alongside Professor Will Smith, the representative from MIT.
Their first task was to learn the intricacies of app design, so that they could bring their concept, the CaringHands app, to life.
“We’re basically learning more about MIT’s App Inventor and getting the skills we will need to develop our actual app,” Chauhan said.
“It has been a lot more difficult, because this time we are actually programming,” Peters added. “We’re actually doing something, instead of just coming up with what we want to do.”
The CaringHands app is intended to increase awareness of local and global problems and allows the mobile user to donate directly to charities supporting solutions to these issues. It was originally inspired by the charity projects at Rock Canyon, including the school’s Wish Week—an amazing, student-led effort to raise money for Make-A-Wish kids.
“A lot of students I know need community service hours, a lot of people like to donate,” Chauhan explained. “It’s so busy today that they have trouble going to research websites or going through the process of donating and so we really wanted to simplify that process and maybe get those charities that maybe weren’t getting recognition and help local charities.”
Professor Smith says he is impressed by the student’s concept, as well as their passion for their project.
“They really pour their heart and soul into it and they want to make it work and they want it to be a success. It is always good for someone that is coming from the outside to encounter, because you know they’re going to work as hard as humanly possible to make this thing come together,” Smith said.
This buy-in is crucial because, just like a real-world job there are high expectations and deadlines. The students were expected to use the 21st Century Skills they learned in the classroom, including communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, to complete the task.
“They do have a job. They have to do this CaringHands app and they have to work backwards from that deadline,” explained Smith. “It really is, in a way, what they are going to be doing in the future. It is a very concrete, as to what is going to be expected of them. They are going to have different tasks, they’re going to have to work together… They’re going to have to schedule themselves. They’re going to have to make sure they keep each other on task as well as themselves. It really is reflective of what the work place is like.”
It’s an authentic learning experience with a brillant outcome, one that smart phone users can now download.
“It is really cool that we will have something tangible, we’ll have something to show people—this is what we did,” Chauhan said.
“My entire family is excited about it. A lot of people I’ve talked to outside, just people from all over the world—think this is a really cool idea and they want the app. I think it will be really cool to have it out there and have it as a tool to use,” Peters said.