Students create smartphone app, advance in Congressional competition

Lakeside High seniors Aditi Umapathy, Amber Verma and Joseph Alackara are the proud creators of an app called Timely, which is a habit-tracker designed to help keep users focused on completing tasks. The group will travel to Washington D.C. in April to present their app to members of congress and big tech company leaders.

The team says their idea for the app came about as a passion project designed to help those with attention deficit disorders, an issue that hits close to home for each of the students. 

“All of us have family that has struggled with attention disorders like ADHD and ADD,” Amber said. “We saw that there’s kind of a gap in the market for apps that are catered to high school students that struggle with their education due to the barriers to being an ADHD student.”

“Even if there are apps on the App Store they are not really the best, they are not tailored to high school students,” Joseph said. “So, we thought we might as well give it a try, and we did, and came up with Timely.”

group photo

Though the app is still in its development phase, the group has big plans to include coding for features like a hydration tracker, and sharing capabilities so a user’s family and friends can keep up with goals they are setting and meeting, or not. In addition, the team is working on coding a timer feature utilizing a research driven study technique helping users to better focus on tasks in 25-minute increments with regular breaks in between. The team also plans to code Spotify to work within the app.

The students have worked over the past year to use what they have learned in their AP Computer Science courses and in their own spare time, to further research and learn a more advanced code needed to build the app.

“We didn’t know how extensive coding would be,” Aditi said. “Even something really simple you need a lot of code, and we would get bugs and errors, but over time we figured out how to solve them more effectively.”

The Congressional App challenge is offered by the U.S. House of Representatives wherein members are encouraged to host district-by-district computer science, or “app,” competitions, annually, for middle and high school students. In January the students were recognized by 12th District Representative Rick Allen.

“It’s the first time you get to try something out in this kind of level, and getting awarded for this was a pretty big deal,” Joseph said.

All three of Timely’s creators say they had at least a minor interest in pursuing technology as a career, however, their experience has solidified their future ambitions.

“I have always liked technology and after taking AP Computer Science, I thought this would be impossible, but when we were exploring the ideas for this app, we explored an entire new field that is growing,” said Amber. “Like biotechnology and how we can use computer science to help people with certain conditions. That really sparked a passion to utilize our creation to help people, that’s what I would like to do.”

“For me, I didn’t know if I wanted to fully pursue technology because I also had an interest in law and medicine,” Aditi said, “But after this project, after going through all this, I really found a passion in it and it made me want to pursue computer science.”

“I was also interested in computer science,” Joseph added. “I always liked technology, like engineering, computer science, coding. When Amber approached me with this I was beyond excited.”

In addition to coding, the app’s logo, banner and other graphics were also created by the student team, with Aditi at the helm.

“We really wanted to help people with ADHD while still making it aesthetically pleasing.”

Three Lakeside High School students have been putting their coding skills to good use to help others, with the creation of a smartphone app. Now, their hard work has paid off as the team was recently recognized as winners of the nationwide Congressional App Challenge competition for the 12th District.
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