In 2018, climate activist Greta Thunberg created a worldwide stir by skipping school to protest against climate change. The then 15-year-old went to inspire millions of children across the world, including Mumbai-based Jashith Narang and Ayush Sankaran, who currently study in Class 5.
Using the lockdown as an opportunity to take forward her message and educate children of their age about environment degradation and the ill effects of global warming, the boys recently developed a mobile application called ‘Climate catastrophe – Earth in Dearth’ in only seven days.
“Smartphones have become such an integral part of all our lives, and mobile apps are an effective way to gauge everyone’s attention. We thought if Greta can start a revolution just by starting a conversation, we can definitely use our skills to educate others. The app is good for society. I am very grateful to my parents and teachers for their constant encouragement,” says Jashith, a student of Bombay Scottish, to The Better India.
What is truly amazing is that from among 300 apps across the world, their app bagged the first and fourth spot in the ‘people’s choice’ and ‘judges choice’ category respectively, in the App Inventor Hackathon 2020 held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Ayush, a student of Billabong High International School(BHIS), Malad, says, “We believe that one need not necessarily be a scientist or an activist to comprehend the complex issues of the environment and fight for it. Just being informed about the issues around you is enough to bring small changes in your lifestyles.”
Dr Madhu Singh, Principal, BHIS, Malad says, “We are very proud of Ayush’s achievement. He has won 3 different awards for different apps in this pandemic, and has proven nothing is impossible by constantly innovating and building new inventions even during the lockdown.”
Both Jashith and Ayush are avid coders and take a sincere interest in Scratch, the programming language. Althoughthe lockdown in Mumbai didn’t allow them to meet, they coordinated and developed it entirely via video calls.
“We did not in our wildest dreams think about winning. For us, it was just another fun activity during the lockdown. The recognition is very motivating for us as we strive to build more such productive apps in future,” the duo says.
An App With A Difference
The app has three sections — learn, test, and play — where kids can get answers to questions on climate change and also learn about real climate heroes.
In the test section, a user gets to answer multiple-choice quizzes on climate change and then proceed ahead to a section that calculates a user’s carbon footprint based on their day to day choices. The third section consists of two games — one on deforestation and the other on renewable sources on energy.
Dividing up the work, the duo gathered content on climate change from various journals, reports and climate change websites like the United Nations Environment Programme. Juggling their online classes, the duo patiently solved all the challenges they faced in terms of coding while developing the app.
“I use all the extra time in the day to watch YouTube videos of Scratch and even enrol myself in various courses and competitions. Every student must make a schedule and learn a new activity every day,” adds Ayush.
You can download the app from here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)