Arjun Deepak, an eighth grade student at the varsity school, is a finalist in BYJU’s FutureSchool 18 Under 18 Coding Contest. Arjun has taken programming courses through BYJU’s online learning platform FutureSchool in addition to his classes at university school. BYJU’s FutureSchool teaches math and programming through live one-on-one classes. After a year of classes, Arjun’s teacher challenged him to come up with a problem that technology can solve via an app.
While he originally wanted to develop an app to help children with their mental health, due to the pandemic he decided to tackle a more practical, everyday problem – the biggest challenges parents face when they have to juggle children’s busy schedules, especially when there is more than one child and multiple after-school and weekend activities.
TK: How did your interest in programming come about and how did you start?
Arjun: I got interested in coding in fourth grade and I learned a bit myself with Khan Academy. It was a great resource to learn for free at beginner level. In the summer of fifth grade, during COVID, I started attending BYJU’s FutureSchool and they took me to the next level. I learned new programming languages and learned more about the languages I knew.
TK: Your BYJU’s programming teacher challenged you to solve a problem using technology. How did you come up with your idea?
Arjun: My teacher asked me to find a problem around me that I could use technology to solve, and one of the first ideas I had was teenage mental health. But with the amount of coding I knew and the challenges that came with the subject, this idea wasn’t viable for me. I was looking for a new idea that I understood better. I started at home and saw that it was very difficult for my mother, a full-time doctor, to keep track of all my sister’s and mine’s activities. So I decided to see if I could help her with an app and that’s where my app Parent Connect came from.
TK: BYJU selected you to enter a competition. What was that and what were you used for?
Arjun: The competition is called “18 Under 18”. It is a global programming competition where programming students submit their apps and some are selected for further mentoring. The mentors help them build their app and submit it to the jury at the end. The jury then selects 18 students under the age of 18 as the winners. I was selected for the mentorship and was told the winners would be announced in December.
TK: What was the most difficult part of developing the app? Have you ever wanted to give up? How did you overcome difficulties and bumps along the way when creating the app?
Arjun: Building an app is a long process and one of the hardest things was dealing with the bugs in the code. If you’re coding, you’re likely to make a mistake. If you don’t use the exact spelling or use a command incorrectly, the computer won’t understand it, and the platform you’re programming on will give you an error signal. The platform I was using was giving me a lot of error signals, some of which were pretty hard to understand.
I overcame these issues by taking things one step at a time. The problems were complex and I couldn’t have solved them in one go. You have to test every component that might have gone wrong and then find a way to fix the problem.
TK: What was the most fun thing about developing the app?
Arjun: What I enjoyed the most were the things I learned about choosing an idea and turning it into an app. Seeing it come together in the end was also very satisfying. I made some finishing touches and could see the result of a lot of work. Seeing my hard work pay off was one of my favorite things about creating the app.
TK: What is your app doing? Is the end product different than you imagined?
Arjun: Parent Connect is an app that parents can use to organize all their children’s activities. When you access the app for the first time, create an account. The app then takes you to a start page. From there you can go to the activity page where you will see different activity categories like School and Extracurricular: Sports. If you enter these categories, you will see all activities that you have registered in these categories. All of them will be in one place for you to see. This is mainly for weekly exercises.
The events screen is for competitions or tournaments that you definitely don’t want to miss. You can add events and they will appear in a list format on the Events page.
Finally, there’s a Nearby Parents screen where, if you make yourself visible, you can see all of the nearby parents who are using the app. You can contact them for carpooling or pickup and drop-off. One feature I would add in the future is a way for parents to share their activities with babysitters or nannies picking up and dropping off the child. This is Parent Connect.
TK: What happens next? Can people get the app now?
Arjun: I’m currently working on getting the app on the Google Play Store. It’s been pretty busy the past few weeks, but I’m coming up with my fall break and Parent Connect should be available on the Google Play Store by the end of October.
TK: Besides programming, what other activities do you enjoy doing?
Arjun: I’m doing robotics at university school. I was team captain last year and we managed to assert ourselves. I also do mathcounts in university school. Mathcounts is a math competition that goes all the way up to the national level, but I’ve only ever been to the federal level. I also do Academic Bowl at my school, which is a kind of competition like Jeopardy where you come in and answer a question. My team did it. I also swim with Jenks Trojan Swim Club. I’ve been swimming at State for the last three years.
I also play guitar and take lessons at BYJU’S FutureSchool. I dance for Kripalaya Dance Academy which teaches Indian Classical Dance. My sister also does most of these activities and it can be very difficult for my mother to keep track. That’s why I developed Parent Connect.
TK: What are some of your favorite places in Tulsa?
Arjun: I really enjoy The Gathering Place, especially when I’m there with friends. It’s a really nice area and there are lots of fun activities for free. Climb Tulsa is really fun too, and it’s great because it has a lot of climbing levels for each person, making it a great place to go with friends or family.
TK: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
Arjun: A fun fact about me is that I’ve done the Tulsa Run for the past seven years. I started in 2015 and this year I’m hoping to beat my father’s personal best in the 5K which is 22:30.
Editor’s note: To BYJU’s FutureSchool Update: BYJU’s FutureSchool announced that the prize for each winner of the 18 Under 18 Global Programming Contest will be $18,000. Arjun is a finalist in this competition and the final 5 winners will be announced in December.