Grade 5 student Yash Narayan recently received the “Best Educational App” award from iOSDevCamp, where he created an innovative app called BullyWatch.
In an event dominated by adult, veteran developers, Narayan was one of only two youth to participate among 500 talented industry insiders from companies including Facebook, Twitter and Apple. The camp (http://www.iosdevcamp.org/) is an annual nonprofit gathering where participants develop applications for iOS (an operating system used for mobile devices manufactured by Apple Inc.) products.
This year’s camp was held at PayPal’s San Jose headquarters over a weekend in late August.
The unique BullyWatch app, which takes the form of a watch, is designed to help stop bullying at school. Oftentimes students cannot express their emotions to a bully and sometimes bullies themselves are unaware that they are, in fact, bullying. Using BullyWatch, when a student feels bullied, they press a button that turns orange, expressing emotions to the bully of feeling bullied. Usually bullies will then back off, but if not, the student can then press the watch for a few more seconds and it will turn red, sending a text message to school staff with the victimized student’s name and location, thus alerting teachers.
“Thousands of kids are bullied in school every day and feel like nobody. My mission in life is to eliminate bullying from schools. I want every kid to feel safe and important. I created BullyWatch to help kids express their emotions to bullies with a click of one single button and get help quickly,” said Narayan.
According to his mother, Ritu Narayan, the iOSDevCamp is the second largest hackathon (an event where programmers meet to do collaborative computer programming) for iPhone- and iPad-based applications. She said Yash had just finished a summer camp at Stanford for developing iPhone applications, and out of curiosity accompanied his father to the hackathon. While there, he decided to pitch his BullyWatch app and subsequently built a working end-to-end product over the course of two days, never expecting to win the prestigious “Best Education Application” award.
Hackathons like the one the Narayans attended provide a venue for self-expression and creativity through technology. People with technical backgrounds come together, form teams around a problem or idea and collaboratively code a unique solution from scratch; the solutions generally take shape in the form of websites, mobile apps and robots.
“Everyone at the competition was very impressed by the courage and persistence Yash showed, and were curious about the school that was nurturing him,” said Ritu Narayan.
Narayan’s app is especially relevant for students these days. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ anti-bullying website, Stopbullying.gov, the majority of bullying today takes place at school, with one in three U.S. students reporting that they have been bullied there.
“We are all so proud of Yash’s recent accomplishments and recognition. He is part of a growing tradition here at Harker in which our students and alumni are exploring the intersection between entrepreneurialism and service to the greater community,” said Chris Nikoloff, Harker’s head of school.